A More Perfect Union

“The Engagement”, by Sasha Isenberg, recounts the complex and chaotic chain reaction that pushes gay marriage from the realm of conservative conjecture to the top of the gay political agenda, and eventually into the halls of the Supreme Court. On this week’s podcast, let’s talk about Isenberg deeply researched book, which includes 25 years of legal and cultural history.

“What they have done is, ultimately,” he says of the victors, “in both the legal process and in American culture, helping to establish the sense that marriage is a unique institution. And the language in which They used to talk about it — about love and commitment — that I think is so special to the dynamic between two people that marriage in a certain relationship is a more central institution in American life than it was 30 years ago, because We have gone through this political battle over it.”

J. Hoberman visited the podcast to discuss his excerpt about the 10 books that were taken together, tell the story of hollywood. He talks, among other topics, why the only celebrity memoir on his list is “Lulu in Hollywood” by Lewis Brooks, who starred in the 1920s and ’30s and published his memoir much later in life.

“She was a remarkably clear observer of what was going on,” Hoberman says, “and began the whole star-making thing to a healthy degree.” So he is able to write about himself and the circumstances under which the movies were made and the people he met in Hollywood, etc., which is both personal and different. There are not many more such memoirs.”

Also in this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; Celebrating its 125th anniversary, Tina Jordan looks back on the history of Book Review; And Elizabeth Egan and Andrew LaValley talk about what they’re reading. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books discussed in this week’s “What We Are Reading”:

We’d love to hear your thoughts about this episode and the book review podcast in general. you can send them books@nytimes.com.

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