PositiveThe Christian Science Monitor...religiously researched ... The author’s prose can wax academic and he bandies about terms like hemipenes and cloaca without explanation, as if he is lecturing to an advanced university class. The reader may read more about the internal organs of birds – the testes of green woodpeckers, for example – than he or she cares to ... That said, this biography makes an important contribution to a fuller understanding of Mr. Willughby’s pioneering career ... Perhaps as important, this book reaffirms in a very dramatic and specific way the vital role of science in the advancement of human understanding and welfare.
RaveUSA Today\"He ably synthesizes centuries of attitudes and beliefs about selfhood, primarily in western thought, from Aristotle, John Calvin and Freud, to Sartre, Ayn Rand and Steve Jobs. His straightforward prose and personal anecdotes make all of it eminently digestible ... So who are we, after all? Storr can cut through the swirl of intellectual theorizing and cultural pressures in one sentence ... If Storr can rattle on a bit, as he does in covering the rise of the self-esteem movement, his chronicle generally is crisp and compelling.\
PositiveThe Christian Science Monitor[Moorehead] portrays the trials and intrigues of the Rosselli clan in intimate detail: the invisible ink, jailbreaks, coded correspondence, and spies galore. In places, the book reads like a gripping thriller. Elsewhere, the author occasionally can get lost in the weeds and assume the reader is fluent in Italian ... In the main, however, Moorehead hits the mark, bringing creeping fascism, and its impact on average citizens, into sharp focus at a time when its abysmal track record is worth remembering.
PositiveThe Christian Science MonitorIn Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary, Walter Stahr, who wrote a biography of Lincoln’s secretary of state, William Seward, brings Edwin Stanton out of the historical shadows and presents him as arguably the third-most-important figure in the outcome of the Civil War, after General Ulysses S. Grant and Lincoln ... But make no mistake, this is an important book about perhaps the most consequential decade in American history ... author presents his subject in his all his many-splendored complexity – flaws and all, of which he had many ... One wishes Stahr had waxed more analytical throughout. He is better at the 'what, where and when' of history than the 'why,' and there are places where a bit more context would be welcome.
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorDespite its grim subject matter, The Orphan Master’s Son is a wonderfully written and gripping, rich in symbolism, and replete with quirky characters, from the Dear One (leader Kim Jong-il, who died last year) to the latest apple of his eye, a naked American nighttime rower … Besides translating the political anathema that is North Korea into the personal realm, Johnson has penned a ripping good thriller, full of surprises and derring-do, blood and guts, cowardice and heroics. If the action is not always entirely plausible, all is forgiven. The reader wouldn’t have it any other way; and heck, North Korea is so strange, so remote from our experience, who knows what might be possible there.
MixedUSA TodayAs with prospecting in the Yukon, diaries tend to produce more gravel than gold...But this is Sedaris, who can be wickedly funny as well as deliciously insightful about modern mores — so the nuggets are big and shiny and well worth panning for … Sedaris assiduously turns over the rocks that litter the human landscape and unflinchingly records what comes creepy-crawling out: whether racism, homophobia or just plain weirdness. The things he observes at IHOP challenge Darwin’s theory … Sedaris periodically shares favorite recipes and odd jokes that strike his fancy. Again, some are right on the edge — and quite amusing.
Anders Rydell, trans. by Henning Koch
MixedThe Christian Science MonitorThis often dense account is not easy sledding. The translation frequently doesn’t extend to long German names for places, entities, or currency. The litany of books, libraries, and human beings that were ravished is numbing, while the author concedes repeatedly that the chances of finding rightful owners 75 years after the crime are increasingly small ... Quibbles aside, this is a most valuable book.
RaveUSA TodayThompson has written a wonderful book full of such wonderings. He wonders all over the place, as befits a man who likes Shakespeare as well as the movie Dumb and Dumber ... Thompson tackles this mystery with solid research, ready wit and catchy aphorisms ... Thompson shows how the melding of innovation with familiarity, as well as exposure of various kinds, applies to other successful creations.
PositiveUSA TodayAs lost city reportage goes — and despite occasional hyperbole and the obligatory over-the-top title — The Lost City of the Monkey God is a well-documented and engaging read ... The author’s narrative is rife with jungle derring-do and the myriad dangers of the chase, highlighted by the deadly fer-de-lance, a snake so scary it would give Indiana Jones pause ... The author dutifully devotes space as well to the controversy in academic circles about this well-hyped archaeological sortie. One complaint is the splashy language used to describe its findings — with the book’s title being exhibit A.
PositiveThe Christian Science MonitorPartlow’s valuable new book enables its readers to understand Afghanistan better – or, at least as well as the author does. It also offers a compelling portrait of former Afghan President Hamid Karzai ... Partlow may not succeed in answering all the questions surrounding the Karzai family, but he at least offers a nuanced understanding of this very intriguing clan and their deeds.
RaveThe Christian Science Monitor...an engaging, richly detailed account of a remarkable man. That Van Cliburn has faded so from our collective memory is almost as astonishing as this improbable tale itself ... The book is not all politics, of course. Cliff deftly places his subject in the context of the evolving musical culture of the past two centuries.
MixedUSA Today...a breezy and very personal remembrance of her life and loves, and her ups and downs ... Cohen provides proper context for Ephron’s times and trials, and he writes engagingly when he isn’t being too clever by half. The reader grows weary of learning, for example, how Ephron and her posse dined on truffle sandwiches in Nice.
Andrew Scott Cooper
PositiveUSA TodayAndrew Scott Cooper brings the Shah, along with his colorful retinue and turbulent times, back to life. It is revisionist history in parts — and mostly sympathetic to the king and his queen Farah. She was among the many people the author interviewed for this thoroughly researched and richly detailed account.
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorThese unsettling tales, elegantly written and wonderfully reported, are like black-and-white snapshots from the national photo album. They depict a society in flux but also stubbornly unmoved through the decades when it comes to many aspects of race relations ... Jackson, 1964 records an important, albeit shameful, chapter of American history. The grace Trillin brings to his job makes his stories all the more poignant.
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorFriedman, a journalist and author of The Aleppo Codex, writes with great feeling and insight about the teenagers who died, were maimed, or were changed in profound ways while defending a patch of earth that the Israelis dubbed 'Pumpkin'...The author’s account of military life transcends the particulars of this tale.
PositiveThe Christian Science MonitorAlmost as gripping as his subject’s adventures is the author’s historical treasure hunt. Tigay does battle with the fog of time and comes to question many assumptions posing as settled historical fact. Along the way he encounters other 'Shapiramaniacs,' including one Yoram Sabo (there could hardly be more than one), a filmmaker who had already been on the case for 30 years. This may not be the greatest story ever told, but it's a pretty darned good one.
RaveThe Christian Science MonitorPatricia Bell-Scott, professor emerita at the University of Georgia, has done a yeomanlike job of bringing both of her subjects and their careers into sharp focus, especially where the strands of their lives intersect. A wonderful touch is the reprinting in full of many of the letters that the two women exchanged.
MixedThe Christian Science MonitorIf they belabor their main thesis at times, authors Harold Holtzer, a Lincoln historian, and Norton Garfinkle, an economist, succeed in presenting a thought-provoking case, quoting Lincoln extensively to buttress their analysis.
MixedThe Christian Science MonitorThis book is both thoughtful and largely even-handed. It also provides an important eyewitness account of the history it analyses. It would be fair, however, to expect the author to do what he censures others for not doing: learn lessons from the results of policy decisions that achieve unexpected (and unfortunate) results.