RaveThe Wall Street JournalIt is an important story, and Mr. Newman, himself a former hedge-fund manager who specialized in sovereign debt, tells it with a combination of investigative skill and dramatic flair ... The tale is intricate, and Mr. Newman’s plotting is tight. The twists are compelling ... This is Mission: Impossible meets The Wolf of Wall Street, to be sure, but Undermoney is also much more. Choppers and megayachts whisk us through this milieu of murderous oligarchs, freelancing spooks, and the people who manage and move their money. From Rembrandt and Dürer (in their artworks) to John Ruskin, Marcus Aurelius, Émile Durkheim and Friedrich Nietzsche (in apt quotation), Mr. Newman’s supercharged world is populated by quite a few personalities with whom you might actually want to have dinner. Sadly all of them are dead, but maybe that’s the point ... Along the way, Mr. Newman’s uncanny eye for detail is on constant display ... or newcomers to this world, Mr. Newman provides a fine primer; for those already familiar, it’s like having your own table at St. Tropez’s Club 55 for a whole week in August ... Tough but humane, as learned as it is lurid, fast-paced but deeply thoughtful, and ultimately an insightful rumination on our times, Undermoney does for this regrettable moment what Boccaccio’s 14th-century Decameron did for the era of the Black Death: provide escape through storytelling, certainly, but also commentary and no little degree of passionate illumination ... stimulating, relevant and dramatic.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... was the Revolution truly a \'civil war\' at heart? And what was the role of the many tens of thousands of everyday Loyalists whose presence made it potentially so? Where were they, who were they, and did they actually fight? Readers looking for answers to such questions will have to look elsewhere. What Mr. Brands provides is a brisk, engaging narrative history of the Revolution itself. He highlights the Franklin drama, alongside more glancing accounts of other Loyalist cases, to ensure that an oft-overlooked part of the American Revolution receives its due.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal... stirring ... Certain stories we need to tell regardless of their size. One of Mr. Sullivan’s achievements is to remind us why. Unsinkable, a fine narrative in its own right, is also a reflection on the nature of storytelling itself, as well as a valuable and entertaining contribution to the record. It is good to learn the history of the American destroyer, with its origins in the response to the torpedo warfare that began on the Roanoke River in 1864, or to learn how the depth-charges and sonar worked on a vessel of the Gleaves class 80 years later. To make such details compelling reading is an accomplishment. More significantly, Mr. Sullivan takes pains to illuminate and honor a lost world.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalFrom the immediate aftermath of World War II through the British retreat from Aden in 1967...Mr. Barr draws on a rich and varied trove of sources to knit a sequence of dramatic episodes into an elegant whole ... Already, by 1946, the question of Palestine and the Jews was intensely vexing. The Jewish vote had become important in key American cities, Mr. Barr explains, providing a foundation for the book\'s fairly familiar narrative of a pro-Zionist U.S. clashing with more pro-Arab elements in Whitehall. It’s no criticism of Mr. Barr to say that his storytelling bogs down amid this diplomatic history. What is greatly to his credit here, as elsewhere in the book, is the total absence of moral posturing and ideological partisanship. When Mr. Barr comes to describe the 1953 coup against Mosaddegh, his book reads like a page-turning spy thriller ... Appearing amid the big set-pieces are numerous episodes that even dedicated Middle East watchers may have forgotten.
Christopher de Bellaigue
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. de Bellaigue, the finest Orientalist of his generation, does the world a great service by charting the attainments of the region’s long 19th century ... This ultimately is the big question, today as in 1831. Is there a link between Islam and the nature and performance of Islamic societies? Here we see another of Mr. de Bellaigue’s strengths, a respectful frankness about the nature of the faith ... Cherry-picking is always a danger when it comes to textual quotation on religious questions. Mr. de Bellaigue, a remarkably fair observer, never falls victim to the temptation.
Robert F. Worth
RaveThe Wall Street JournalOne of the many strengths of Mr. Worth’s book is his gift for finding and telling the small story that illuminates the big picture ... Anyone who claims to know what to do about it all, or where it’s going next, has no more idea than the rest of us. Mr. Worth has the good judgment to focus on some first-class stories pursued over the course of his extraordinary travels. It is our additional good fortune that he writes about it so well.