MixedThe New York Times Book Review... colorful and ambitious ... Lockwood has a keen eye for a good yarn, and there are enthralling glimpses here of individual lives buffeted by the American Revolution ... Lockwood’s grander claim that the Revolution \'devastated the globe\' relies on the reader’s sense of a \'butterfly effect\' ... What soon becomes clear even from the evidence Lockwood presents is that all of these events had much deeper pre-existing causes and in many cases more immediate triggers than Betsy Ross flapping a flag ... Lockwood intends his book to be political...Yet by tracing all these intricate and disparate global events back to the American Revolution, To Begin the World Over Again creates a new iteration of exceptionalism that claims the Revolution was not only America’s foundational moment, but the whole world’s ... The Revolution was a major event in world history. But was it really this important to everyone, everywhere, immediately? ... The effects of the American Revolution on France merit considerably more attention, and might have strengthened the book’s argument ... Having proposed such an audacious thesis, and collected a lot of interesting but not self-evidently cohesive or decisive information, the book needs to draw its ideas together and make its case that the American Revolution devastated the globe. As it is, though much of the material here is lively, enjoyable and compelling, the thesis is not persuasive. Rather than being either a unique global inspiration or a unique global devastator, perhaps in the 18th century America was just not the only game in town.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewPerhaps inevitably, with one who has been regarded almost as a saint, it is the flaws that will capture many readers’ attention. A key theme that emerges is Gandhi’s effort to control himself and those around him ... Some of the most interesting parts of this book concern another group Gandhi sought to instruct: women. Two sections in particular are likely to raise eyebrows ... Guha does as much as any reasonable biographer could to explain the \'experiments\' with reference to Gandhi’s 40-year obsession with celibacy. Ultimately, though, the reader is left feeling that Gandhi’s own defenses of his behavior are riddled with self-justification ... Guha’s admiration for his subject is clear throughout this book. He tries to explain controversial aspects of Gandhi’s life by contextualizing them within Gandhi’s own thinking. Some of Gandhi’s fiercer critics may feel this is soft-pedaling, but it does help build a fair, thorough and nuanced portrait of the man ... Guha lets Gandhi appear on his own terms, and allows him to reveal himself in all his contradictions.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewAnyone with a basic grasp of history will know that he made it. Yet the tale of how he did so has lost none of its thrill in the 116 years since it happened. Millard’s suspenseful writing is ideal for this adventure-novel material ... Millard has a strong sense of character and storytelling, though she is less concerned with the details that often illuminate historical writing ... over all this is a tremendously readable and enjoyable book.