RaveNew York Journal of BooksThe Case of the Vanishing Blonde is excellent work from a true master of the craft. These punchy crime stories are told with few frills and no romanticism. Bowden does not indulge in the usual salacious tripe of other true crime scribes. Rather, as he shows in every essay in The Case of the Vanishing Blonde
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksSukezo’s superfluousness makes The Man Without Talent deeply philosophical ... The Man Without Talent deserves its standing as a manga classic. Tsuge’s simple art and use of black and white perfectly compliment this morbid tale. More than an allegory of Tsuge’s own battles with neuroses of one kind or another, this graphic novel explores the lie behind the cliché that everyone matters. Yes, Sukezo’s unwillingness to pursue his art is what damns him in the end, it does not negate the fact that society, which separates its winners from the losers, can deem some individuals and whole professions as useless. Sukezo is useless, thus his life is one long hermit’s wandering that is bound to end in irrelevance. The Man Without Talents is the furthest thing from an uplifting tale. Rather, it is a bleak depiction of the tortured artist and life at the absolute bottom rung of the ladder.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksThe tensions between China and the United States (and indeed much of the world) have increased dramatically since the spread of COVID-19, which began in the industrial Chinese city of Wuhan. Because of this, the main thrust of journalist Mara Hvistendahl’s The Scientist and the Spy seems both pointed and outdated ... does achieve the impossible by making seeding, planting, and food engineering somewhat exciting. Hvistendahl’s pen is sharp and deft, and this book moves fast ... That said, some readers may be turned off by the obvious bias toward Mo ... Also, whereas Hvistendahl often colors US government actions with accusations of racism, she, despite living in China for eight years, never once discusses the ethno-nationalist core of the CCP and its own anti-Western, anti-American initiatives, many of which began during the Cold War ... a good and solid rundown of the murky world of industrial espionage. It does call into question not only the FBI’s close relationship with multinational corporations, but it even calls into question the legitimacy of intellectual property law. That said, this book has several blind spots and is at times a prisoner of its own assumptions.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksAll facets of Ralegh’s life are wonderfully drawn by historian Alan Gallay. Gallay’s biography is more than just a portrait of one of the world’s most interesting men; it is also an exhaustive study of the first age of the English Empire ... corrects the assumption that he was a \'failed colonizer\' given that his experiment in North America never materialized. Gallay also goes to great lengths to show that \'reading history backward from what occurred at its end\' is a grave mistake in regard to the first English Empire ... Gallay exposes fascinating pieces of Ralegh’s personality, interests, and the magical world he inhabited ... a brilliant biography of a true one of a kind.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... does have some of Christie’s greatest creations ... a reminder of why Christie was one of the English language’s premiere stylists. Yes, her characters came lock, stock and barrel from cultural and class stereotypes. And yes, Christie’s plots are often absurd. But it is high time to recognize that Christie was a great writer; not a great mystery writer, just a great writer. The Last Seance shows that Christie could pull off stories of supernatural suggestion, and that she was fantastic at creating atmosphere ... the perfect Sunday read for the autumnal season.
Søren Sveistrup, Trans. by Caroline Waight
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThe Chestnut Man is a fearsome page-turner that places a premium on action. The short and sharp chapters move along at a thunderous pace. Evidence piles upon evidence, and at almost every turn there is a new and shocking development in the Chestnut Man case. While readers should know that the ultimate reveal does not come until near the end of the book, hardly any should waste time trying to guess the culprit’s identity. It’s almost certain that you won’t get it right...This is not the novel for the squeamish or easily offended ... Most of the people in this novel fall somewhere between banal and evil, with the titular killer being the chief and leader of the horribles. Sveistrup, who is best known for creating the television show The Killing, proves in here that he is a master storyteller with a true talent for murder. The Chestnut Man is as hard to put down as it is to stomach. The novel could be trimmed down just a little and still maintain its character-driven core.
Anthony T. Kronman
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksKronman writes well and is an articulate defender of the Western tradition. The Assault on American Excellence is a learned work that goes against the grain, and its support for the return of a hierarchical and aristocratic academia is so clear-eyed and correct that it is impossible to deny ... Kronman is on far less stable ground in other ways, however ... Kronman’s biggest error is his attachment to liberal democracy. This is not intrinsically bad. Rather, Kronman’s support for islands of aristocracy in democratic seas makes logical sense, but is near impossible in practice ... a fantastic book. Its research is impeccable, and the writing is superb. Its only weakness is its inability to take its arguments to their logical conclusion.
Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Jacob Phillips
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a welcome and beautiful edition to a sleazy, sordid bibliography ... a noir story with a human core. Crane and Jacob simultaneously conform to certain crime fiction archetypes (the alcoholic and the goon with the good heart) while also remaining unique creations ... shows off the talents of all three men who created it. Brubaker’s writing is as crisp and direct as it always is ... Phillip’s gritty pencils give real flesh and blood to Brubaker’s words, and illustrator and colorist Jacob Phillips mixes bright pinks, subdued blues and reds, and tons of black ... a near-perfect addition to the Criminal canon. It is a bleak tale with familiar faces, but not so in-depth that it could turn off first-time readers. Bad Weekend is crime comics at their finest, so why not waste a boozy weekend with this graphic novel.
Young-Ha Kim Trans. by Krys Lee
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a brilliant collection of short stories that run the gamut from intense thrillers to introspective reflections on pain ... [a] visceral gut punch of a collection that mostly takes place within the troubled minds of its protagonists. Young-ha Kim is exceedingly good at distorting reality and telling stories about how meaningless reality truly is. This is everyday surrealism with a sharp edge. In this collection, serial killers are sympathetic and traumatized children are spoiled brats who heartlessly traumatize two generations, one older and one younger. As bleak as this collection is, a bright ray of light shines through. That ray is called \'talent\' and Young-ha Kim is an author who deserves to be very famous.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksThe book’s center—the aforementioned massacre—is not discussed in any great detail until page 157. Before that, The House of the Pain of Others engages in lots of digressions, side comments, and biographical sketches of the major participants in the massacre ... often meandering ... can be difficult to follow at times. A slew of names are bandied about, and often Herbert jumps from topic to topic with nary a trance of narrative cohesion. This book does not market itself as a standard history, but at times its creative nonfiction borders on being asinine ... tells an excellent story about an event that Mexico and Torreon have done a good job of forgetting ... an exploration of how racial resentment can simmer for a long time before breaking out into open bloodletting.
Victor Davis Hanson
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books\" ... not like most right-wing pamphlets masquerading as books. Hanson, a historian of war and a Classics scholar, is not your typical news network blowhard with a ghost writer. As such, The Case for Trump is riddled with allusions to ancient Greece and the Roman republic. Rather than simply the vulgarian of mass media caricature, Hanson sees Trump as more akin to the Roman populist Catiline or even the Missouri-bred President Harry Truman ... Hanson’s volume is very pro-Trump, but does admit that the president has not really expanded his base since the election, and only recently realized that fighting against the \'deep state\' cannot extricate the president from the necessity of having to work with the FBI, CIA, and other Washington insiders ... Where The Case for Trump truly shines is in depicting Trump’s enemies. Hanson skewers the \'deep state,\' the media, and the bicoastal elite for their incestuousness and disdain for the hoi polloi ... will not be read by Democratic voters or die-hard liberals. It should be ... Simply calling Trump supporters \'racist,\' \'homophobic,\' or \'xenophobic\' will only serve to irritate the lower middle class. The Case for Trump, plus the recent election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil (where whites are not the racial majority), should wake up Democrats and their supporters to the fact that unpopular progressive policies (more regulation, de-growth in the economy, open borders) and racial hectoring against whites will never unify a country.\
RaveNew York Journal of BooksMarijuana also causes psychosis. That last unpleasant truth underpins former New York Times journalist Alex Berenson’s argument in Tell Your Children. This book exposes the marijuana racket in the United States and Canada as being built on half-truths and outright lies ... Marijuana dependency is a real thing, and this book uses big data to highlight the shocking fact ... Tell Your Children will likely be seen by legalization supporters as Reefer Madness repackaged in a less pulpy gloss. They would be wrong, of course. Berenson’s book is a revelation that debunks most of the myths that far too many Americans have imbedded about ganja ... Sadly, Tell Your Children has all the markings of a book destined to fall on deaf ears ... but Berenson can at least take comfort in telling the truth ... Tell Your Children may just be the most important public policy book of the 21st century.
James Carl Nelson
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"Nelson’s account is consumed with a sense of bitter melancholy and morbid humor ... Nelson tells this story and so much more with great pathos. His intimate portraits of some of the 339th’s doomed men are heartbreaking, and The Polar Bear Expedition is more than a great celebration of this little-known conflict.\
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksKelly tells this story with exhilaration ... a great read that utilizes biography in order to tell its story ... a timely reminder that labor battles have long been a part of American history. Kelly’s book is not only a wonderful distillation of why the 1894 Pullman strike still matters, but it also presents an excellent overview of what life was like in 1894—full of technological promise, and yet riddled with class conflict and economic warfare ... If America is indeed entering a new Gilded Age, then Jack Kelly’s The Edge of Anarchy should be read by those with a serious desire to avoid another civil war between workers, managers, owners, and the government.
Edward J. Watts
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksMortal Republic may present no new ideas about the fall of the Roman Republic, but it is a timely reminder that republics are precarious ... Mortal Republic provides excellent insights into how the Republic became the Empire, and more broadly it speaks to the ever-present threat of centralized power. The more a civilization centralizes, the more powerful a central government becomes. A powerful central government will almost always give way to authoritarianism of one stripe or another
F S Naiden
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksHistorian F. S. Naiden does something a little radical in his newest book, Soldier, Priest, and God: He pays less attention to Alexander the military genius, and focuses more on Alexander the devout man of the age ... Naiden’s book is eye-opening to say the least ... This book offers a well-written account of Alexander’s brief reign as the greatest god in both Europe and Asia ... Naiden’s book is a wonderful glimpse at a long lost world of conquerors, royal marriages, and festivals featuring slightly clothed dancers, bonfires, and libations. Soldier, Priest, and God makes clear all of the reasons why Alexander, who died in Babylon at the age of 32, is remembered in the traditions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, and Muslims.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Magnus makes many assumptions in this book. Chief among them is the fact that liberal capitalism is the optimal economic structure ...
Magnus’ other problem in Red Flags is that he noticeably underplays the savagery of the Mao regime. Yes, China modernized under Mao, but it did at the cost of between 40 and 50 million lives. Only a cold-blooded economist could skip over such a fact. But, besides these issues, Red Flags is a timely and important read that deftly shows how China’s economic power may be just a passing illusion.\
Erle Stanley Gardner
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksExudes mid-century American cool, with loads of snappy dialogue. The action is heavy in this pulp novel, and indeed action and dialogue more than make up for a rather pedestrian plot. There is no locked room mystery here nor labyrinthine blackmail scheme in the mold of Raymond Chandler. The Count of 9 deals with a prosaic crime with a predictable conclusion, but that does not matter ... serves as a reminder (or an introduction) to Gardner’s seminal talents.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksNine Lives is an endlessly fascinating portrayal of al-Qaeda and the jihadist movement before and after 9/11 ... Dean’s book is not afraid to point out the flaws of the West’s response to terrorism ... Nine Lives is a thrill ride of an autobiography ... Nine Lives is also an exquisite portrait of what it is like to be a secret agent caught in limbo between the West and the Middle East. Dean’s tale is a harrowing one and should be an eye-opener to any armchair pundit who thinks that the War on Terrorism is an easy fix ... a must read for anyone who seriously wants to end the scourge of jihadi terrorism in the West and the East.
MixedThe New York Journal of Books\"The Moment Before Drowning has many colorful characters, but most are mere stereotypes ... The mystery at the heart of The Moment Before Drowning is underwhelming ... The Moment Before Drowning is a highly lyrical novel. Brydon’s prose is exquisite, and he certainly knows how to set a scene. The problem with this book is that it is preachy, intentionally cerebral, and its plot goes nowhere. The pleasure of reading this book is also constantly undercut by the many (and repetitive) flashback scenes set in Al-Mazra’a. It could be argued that The Moment Before Drowning might have been better off as a short story or novella, not a full-length novel.\