PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] detailed and disturbing portrait ... [a] clear and convincing narrative ... While there are no big news revelations in MBS the book’s strength is the thoroughness of its reporting. Hubbard interviewed contacts inside the kingdom until the Saudis stopped giving him visas in 2018. Many of those he talked to chose to remain anonymous, fearing retaliation. Those he cites by name are very brave, or else as arrogant and unrepentant as M.B.S. himself ... Hubbard acknowledges that much of what M.B.S. has done for his country and its people, especially its young people, has been as admirable as it is overdue, but in this age of incipient tyrants he also understands that authoritarian rulers can be tremendously popular even when they are terribly feared ... Woven through Hubbard’s recounting of these events is the story of Khashoggi, his exile from Saudi Arabia, and his gruesome murder. It’s a narrative whose tragic end many readers will know in advance. But Hubbard does a brilliant job helping us understand Khashoggi the man as well as the operation that killed him.
James R. Clapper
MixedThe Washington PostThe book begins and ends with a bitter appraisal of Trump and the Russian plot to put him in power ... This may sound sanctimonious to those aware of the dirty tricks played, covert wars waged and tortures inflicted by the CIA over the years, but Clapper, who worked in other, more antiseptic parts of the intel world—mainly monitoring communications—is quite sincere ...Given the overall tone and themes of the book, there are some passages by the old hand that readers may find surprising. At several points Clapper writes with considerable emotion about how unfairly LGBT intelligence officers were treated in the past and how pleased he is that they are fully accepted now. Clapper is generally sympathetic to Obama’s leadership—but not always ... Trump will want to convince his hard-core supporters that people like Clapper...were the real power in the country before Trump took over, and it is he, Trump, who is now speaking truth to them. Could be. Who knows?
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewHer narrative of the unending Syrian war from 2011 through 2016 and into 2017 offers page after page of extraordinary reporting and many flashes of exquisitely descriptive prose. But it is the characters around whom the story is built who make the book unforgettable, as Abouzeid threads together their stories of hope and loss in a country where \'the dead are not merely nameless, reduced to figures. They are not even numbers\' ... Today there is, as Abouzeid’s title tells us, no turning back, and one reads the book’s final pages with no hope of a happy ending. But one also reads them with the conviction that Abouzeid’s remarkable journalistic and literary work has given us, at last, a book worthy of the enormous tragedy that is Syria.