PositiveThe New RepublicUltimately a polemic, Spiral is at its strongest when taking on the Bush administration’s worst excesses: the unwarranted secrecy and boneheaded assumptions that led to disaster. Danner draws evidence from the rich histories of the era, deftly repurposing the words of former administration officials...Danner constructs a terrifyingly clear picture of the distorted logic of the Bush administration ... he largely overlooks the political realities Obama has faced, including a hostile Congress that has blocked any effort to close Guantanamo. He also pays too little attention to Obama’s attempts to end large military engagements.
PositiveThe New RepublicAmericans, for their part, might take this moment to enjoy Secor’s book to gain a better understanding of Iran’s rich recent history. In it, they will find this lesson: the circle may tighten around intellectual life in Iran, around political progress, and around the complicated heroes who hold down, often unsuccessfully, those barricades—but the ideas that animate these figures and their impulses, the debates behind them, will live on underground, behind closed doors, until it’s time to bloom again.