PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... an ambitious biography ... Lawrence was a procession of one, \'the sole member of his own party\' as his biographer neatly puts it. It is to the author’s great credit, then, that hardly any of the vast pile of dirt that has accumulated around Lawrence in the 90-odd years since his death is swept under the carpet ... Lawrence is certainly the victim in Burning Man, as well as being its hero and also, you infer, its agent provocateur ... Ms. Wilson is good on the self-consciously performative aspects of the Lawrences’ union ... Far from being a conventional life and times, Burning Man is a triptych based on a Dante-esque pattern, full of highly imaginative detours into Lawrentian dualism ... there is something rather satisfying about the final conundrum that Frances Wilson sets out to solve.
MixedThe Spectator (UK)Kingsnorth spends most of his near-400 pages taking some serious risks. One of them is the Order’s vocal style, half faux-Anglo-Saxon, half contemporary slang (‘cute’, ‘hun’, ‘amazin’ etc). On a good day...this can seem wonderfully sharp and vivid; but on a bad day it brings to mind the Geoffrey Hill of Mercian Hymns reinterpreted by a 1960s-era experimental novelist who has been induced to read Richard Jeffreys’s dystopian classic After London (1885) ... Another risk is to introduce one of Wayland’s emissaries into the narrative and give it a contemporary voice ... You can’t help thinking that Alexandria, however imaginatively conceived and ecologically switched-on, might have worked better at half the length.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalThis, as its author acknowledges, is intended as a corrective to Norman Sherry’s mammoth three-volume endeavor The Life of Graham Greene (1989-2004) and Michael Shelden’s Graham Greene: The Enemy Within (1995), both of which went to town on their subject’s sexual peccadilloes and his supposed deviousness. Greene’s Greene, alternatively, is, if not exactly a benign, healing presence, then a force for good in the political and ethical debates of his day—a mythmaker, certainly, and a creature of the will but, for all his trafficking with the devil, indisputably on the angels’ side ... How does Greene the biographer—whose courtesy, good intentions and scholarly know-how are in evidence from one page to the next—treat these first 35 years and the packed half-century of books, romance and political intervention that fans out beyond them? On the one hand, he is good on the author as mythmaker, deducing that the truth about the trigger-happy teenager out on Berkhamsted Common with his revolver may well differ from published accounts ... On the other hand, there is the question of what might be called biographer Greene’s ideological stance. It would be perfectly possible to single out The Unquiet Englishman as an example of the shifting moral compass of the contemporary life and times. If the old-style biographer liked to rootle around salaciously in its subject’s knicker-drawer, then the new one is much keener on punishing offenses against modern liberal orthodoxy. To put it bluntly—far more bluntly than Richard Greene would care to put it—the sins of some 300-year-old ancestor you never knew can figure far more conspicuously on the charge sheet than cheating on your wife ... The little gusts of censoriousness blow thick and fast ... How curious, then, that the complications of Greene’s private life should be allowed to pass virtually without comment ... Richard Greene has written an astute and sympathetic biography, but a neutral reader—I am one—may leave it thinking that his subject was not quite as great a writer or nice a man as he suggests.
W. Scott Poole
MixedThe Wall Street Journal\"If nothing else, Wasteland... is fully attuned to the conflict’s devastating psychological impact ... Much of what follows is highly persuasive ... On the other hand, the further that Mr. Poole casts his net—when it is flung over modernist literature, for example—the less convincing some of his thesis becomes ... Surrealism, Dada, André Breton, Salvador Dalí, Fritz Lang . . . there is scarcely an artform, an artist or an artifact that isn’t somehow grist to Mr. Poole’s conceptualizing mill, and the fact that, for example, there were plenty of [similar works from before the war] goes unrecorded ... When Mr. Poole is good, he is very good... But his diffuseness rather lessens the book’s overall effect. So, too, does the curious hybridization of the style ... Still, Mr. Poole’s general conclusions about World War I’s transformation into art, and the process of psychological displacement that accompanied it, are incontestable.\
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal\'Well,\' he writes, \'being as how I brought Klein to Apple, by making sure the way was clear, I owe someone, somewhere something, that’s for sure.\' That sentence gives a good idea of Taylor’s slightly tripped out, conversational and—it must be said—quintessentially 1960s style, in which judgment comes by way of situational incongruity and the humor is by turns wry, impressionistic, tongue-in-cheek, buried and laconic ... Taylor also specializes in jaw-dropping bathos ... All this is intensely, if not quite always intentionally, amusing ... I was transported back...to the moment in the Beatles Anthology series in which Harrison, viewing some ancient footage of milling fans, declares that he would like U2 to see this. That way they could understand what it was like to be really famous.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...highly entertaining … Like many an excursion in Harris-land, its plot runs in parallel, with two interconnected lives busily at work on either side of the channel eventually meeting in a single point … If any of the ingredients of a successful historical thriller have gone missing in Munich, then I failed to spot their absence. To particularize, Mr. Harris’s re-arrangement of the pre-World War II chessboard has drama; it has determinism; it has celebrity walk-ons and it has period doppelgängers.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalUnlike many a reference-book compiler, Mr. Lynch is interested in first principles—in theory, psychology and motive, in what actually constitutes a work of reference and what impulse inspires the average library browser to pick one up or the cyber-crawler to click ... With 50 entries on display, Mr. Lynch’s catalog is necessarily partial. At the same time, its savor is dramatically enhanced by a series of 'half-chapters' that dot the book, allowing him to rove into mysterious territories far beyond the language dictionary or the sporting digest.