MixedThe New York Journal of BooksAll the elements are in place for a rip-roaring yard of epic proportions. Hill has a marvelous cast of characters with unique story arcs. At times his grandmother’s story feels like a Greek tragedy; at other times the story of Dane Harris, the liquor dealer turned Madden apprentice, plays like a slapstick farce, colored by the various crooked public officials who keep the Hot Springs vice business running ... Hill tells the story with varying success. At times the book feels like three different plot lines all vying for attention: the gangster superstar, the corrupt casino owner and his politician pals, and the woman who lives in the corrosion beneath the glamour. Hill just can’t maintain the frenetic energy of his prologue as he switches back and forth between his characters and their varying story threads. The Vapors is a new take on the familiar gangster history, but it needs just a little bit more cohesion to make it all fit together.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a masterful narrative of the day, weaving together a cast of characters and events in a compelling work that reads like hands-on reportage from a writer who was on the scene. Achorn magnifies his writing with fresh research, including personal recollections by eyewitnesses and newspaper accounts of the day ... filled with remarkable personalities and figures who dwell on the periphery of the inauguration ... Achorn’s work is as epic as the topic deserves. His research is remarkable, telling the wider story through minute details and moments of deep meaning ... a welcome addition to the voluminous canon of Lincoln books. Through these pages Achorn transforms readers into spectators of history as it unfolds.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... takes neglected obituaries to new heights. Rocca extends the definition of death into extremes that are both logical and comical, and always respectful to the subject ... you can practically hear Rocca’s amusing, slightly nasal voice on the page ... is tinged with poignant moments ... droll, ironic, silly, poignant, and thoughtful all at once. This isn’t a book to read cover to cover, though that’s certainly not a bad route to take. Rather, it is a volume of delights that is best savored by skipping through the chapters at your own pace ... Death comes to everyone and everything. Mobituaries takes delight in that sting.