The new British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her cabinet today.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Fact Behind The Fiction: 5 Great Historicals For Summer

Jul 25, 2013

So was that real?

I hear variations on this theme all the time from readers. Titrating fact and fantasy can give a story a mysterious energy. Writers fetch up those details that sate the senses, allowing us to touch and taste, hear and feel how things were once upon a time. A woman steps out in Gilded Age New York City. Would she wear muslin or silk, petticoats or a hoop of whale baleen? Short kid gloves or long satin ones? How deep is her decolletage? All the particulars, please!

Some classics — Jack Finney's Time and Again comes to mind — place invented characters in an authentic historical milieu. This approach is great. But I have a soft spot for those authors who revive some living, breathing figure, often a relatively minor one (hello, Thomas Cromwell). Real events, forgotten or infamous, also have a welcome grit about them.

Each of these summertime reads picks up where history leaves off. All are rich enough that I felt satisfied even before I read the author's source notes. But when I learned "what was real" in these books I reached a whole new level of delight.

Knowing there is fact behind the fiction made reading these hammock-friendly books a fantastic experience for me. Voltaire famously said, "History is the lie commonly agreed upon." I think we all know that a diplomatic agreement comes into play when readers encounter a historical novel that they love, that engulfs them in the glories of the past. The author agrees not to indulge in glaring "presentisms" — the latest jargon for anachronism — and has to steer away from being all "ye olde," as well. As a reader, I agree to ignore the inconvenient truth that the Russian characters in the story should be speaking Russian, say, instead of the English on the page. The writers who get me excited, like this summer's crop of novelists, blow on a historical ember and coax it into a literary flame.

Jean Zimmerman's debut work of historical fiction, The Orphanmaster, a murder mystery set in Dutch Manhattan, has just come out in paperback. She posts daily at Blog Cabin, jeanzimmerman.com.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.