Review: Masha Gessen’s ‘The Brothers’

April 17, 2015 2:06 PM

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Review: Masha Gessen’s ‘The Brothers’

Long before his thoughts turned to murder, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the low-rent Moriarty behind the Boston Marathon bombing, plunged into the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to teach himself English. I have no idea if he ever came across the Holmesian adage, “A truth is better than indefinite doubt,” in the course of his reading. But Masha Gessen would agree with the great detective. In her new book, she uses facts and plausible conjecture to dispel the misconceptions and rumors that have accrued to the Tsarnaevs.

No slouch in the sleuth department herself, this Russian-born journalist assembles a challenging jigsaw puzzle that spans two continents. Her goal is to elucidate and contextualize the brothers’ principled savagery, not to exonerate or mitigate their actions. While several questions remain, the most...

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