RHETT BUTLER'S PEOPLE
by Donald McCaig |

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REVIEWED BY SUE CORBETT

NOVEL

McCaig, author of the Civil War novel Jacob's Ladder, was handpicked to extend the saga begun in Margaret Mitchell's 1936 Gone With the Wind—a daunting act to follow since it's one of the most beloved novels of all time (and a '91 sequel, Alexandra Ripley's critically panned Scarlett, has sold some 6 million copies). McCaig has fashioned a "parallel" story seen through Rhett's eyes, beginning with his childhood on a Charleston rice plantation, where he clashed with his father and formed a life-altering friendship with a freed black man. We learn details of Rhett's mostly noble history with the madam Belle Watling, an association that made Scarlett's green eyes flash with envy in Mitchell's epic. Like the original, this is a melodrama—children perish, lovers die, homes burn. McCaig is more persuasive on the battlefront than in the boudoir; one never feels the charge between the principles that Mitchell conjured. Still, this is a must-read for GWTW fans, who will learn that Scarlett was right (we're not telling how) when she said tomorrow would be another day.

by Christopher Hitchens |

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CRITIC'S CHOICE

REVIEWED BY JOSH EMMONS

NON-FICTION

In his second book on the topic, arch-contrarian Hitchens presents a fascinating collection of articles that just say no to religion. In illuminating introductions to pieces by everyone from Lucretius to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Hitchens gives a cogent account of rationalism through the ages. The authors themselves make short work of intelligent design theory, the immorality of infidels, divine revelation and dozens of other concepts advocated by the religious in the great debate over how we came to be who and where we are. Required reading for anyone who believes, disbelieves or isn't yet sure.

"I see Scarlett as the finest female character in American literature," says McCaig. "I tried to make Rhett live up to her."

NEW IN PAPERBACK

WHAT IS THE WHAT by Dave Eggers This fictionalized memoir of a Sudanese refugee adjusting to American life is harrowing and poignant.

BREAKABLE YOU by Brian Morton A novel about the vagaries of love, starring a divorced couple and their depressive daughter. Witty and wise.

BORN ON A BLUE DAY by Daniel Tammet Tammet, who has Asperger's, offers a rare, riveting glimpse into the mind of an autistic adult.

Hitchens's God is Not Great, a biting condemnation of religion, became a surprise bestseller after its May release. "There's been a turning point where people don't automatically think of faith as a virtue," he says. "But even I was surprised by how well it did in the Bible Belt."

• The singer-actress, who has a new baby and a new book on beauty, Thalia: ¡Belleza!, shares advice on feeling good in any circumstance:

WHEN YOU'RE LOW ON SLEEP Slice some potatoes and chill them. Put them on your eyes for about 15 minutes. No puffiness!

WHEN YOU CAN'T VISIT THE SALON For highlights, pour clear beer onto your hair and let it dry in the sun. An Acapulco beach secret!

WHEN YOU'RE PREGNANT I craved Dunkin' Donuts at midnight. The ones with sugar on top. I'd tell my husband [music mogul Tommy Mottola], "Go for my doughnuts. Right now!"

Meditating atop glaciers with Orlando Bloom was just another day in the "office" for Bloom's cousin, photographer Sebastian Copeland, 43. The pair took a three-week expedition way down south for Copeland to take shots for his book, Antarctica: The Global Warning, part of his work with the Global Green Initiative to raise awareness about planetary warming.