RaveThe Atlantic... his book proceeds as so many dad books don’t: with a father’s careful, piercing introspection, and a deep analysis of anger ... Gessen writes about his temperamental, trying son with a depth that can only come from years of loving observation ... Memoirs of fatherhood are rarely so honest or so blunt.
MixedThe AtlanticTaubes builds his case through lawyerly layering of rich detail ... Certainly he’s tenacious. It takes some grit to pursue a simple claim through a jungle of confusing research, and even more when you consider how that simple claim was for many years ignored or denigrated by experts in the field. To explain this disrespect, Taubes delves into the history and politics of sugar ... And though Taubes depicts Big Sugar as a single actor in a far-reaching and triumphant plot, history doesn’t really bear him out...I'm not trying to debunk Taubes’s anti-sugar position. As an industry consultant might say, 'I’m only pointing out some inconsistencies.' These should be considered in their murky context, though. Just as the history defies a simple reading, the research on nutrition—ample and diverse though it’s been—isn’t close to dispositive ... [but] he’s a clear-eyed zealot for his cause, acknowledging his bias even as he presses on for better science ... It’s extraordinary and refreshing to see a science journalist so wary of his sources, and so willing to present himself as someone who knows more than they do.
PanSlateA Book About Love doesn’t waver from its author’s standard blueprint. First ask a straw-man question ('is love really make-believe?'), then tell a famous story ('a boy goes to a party…his name is Romeo'), relate it to some data from an aging academic ('a spry 80-year-old' who 'talks slowly, always pausing thoughtfully'), and finish with a platitude ('our lives become the sum of everyone we have loved'). Repeat, repeat, repeat ... Where the Lehrer of 10 years ago might have talked of love in terms of chemicals and neural cortex, the new one uses cottonmouth-inducing phrases like habituation, attunement, companionate love, limerence, and sexual communal strength. It’s just about as dreary as it sounds ... Despite its thorough vetting, A Book About Love has its share of suspect claims and wonky data. Lehrer may have given up on outright fraud, but he’s still prone to spreading bunk.
PanSlateWith Grit, Duckworth has now put out the definitive handbook for her theory of success. It parades from one essential topic to another on a float of common sense, tossing out scientific insights as it goes along. How to raise your kids, how to unearth your inner passion, how to find a higher purpose—like other self-help authors, Duckworth finds authoritative answers to these questions, promising to change how we see the world. And like other self-help authors, she pulls a sleight of hand by which even widely held assumptions end up looking like discoveries...But a closer look at Duckworth’s seminal research, as well as some recent studies from her colleagues in the field, suggest there isn’t much supporting evidence for either of her theses.