PositiveThe Washington PostRoberts’s narrative challenge is gigantic. George III reigned for six decades (1760-1820), during which his world exploded with revolutionary fervor, first in North America, then across Europe, followed by two decades of desperate war with revolutionary and Napoleonic France. With insight and aplomb, Roberts completes his mission, revealing the king to have been a conventional, conservative gentleman, uxorious husband and father of 15 ... he pays insufficient attention to the fact that those policies represented a sharp and intended hardening of the previously lax imperial regime and that American resistance was entirely foreseeable.
John Le Carré
MixedWashington Independent Review of BooksThe ending is unsatisfying, which le Carré certainly intended. His message: Stop looking for happy endings ... the impatient reader demands, is the book any good? It’s okay. And okay le Carré is better than a whole lot of other books. He tells too much of the story in retrospective narrative rather than letting us live through exciting moments. The Svengali’s final scene, which could have involved some wickedly inventive tradecraft, happens offstage. The publisher pumps in a lot of white space to get the page count to 200. Still, even in a sour frame of mind, le Carré the stylist is a wonder ... If you’re a le Carré enthusiast, you should read this book with modest expectations.
David O. Stewart
RaveBookreporterThis book is a testament to the research that Stewart has done. So many factors affected Washington’s life and our history...and he does an excellent job of bringing these details into the narrative ... I couldn’t shake the feeling that this book is a bit of a missed opportunity—to articulate the improbability that one man, within a short period of time, could win a war against the most powerful empire on earth, relinquish that power, bring 13 disparate colonies together, stand as their first leader, and ensure the new nation’s survival. We search history in vain for another man to accomplish similar feats, and I think this warranted more of the book’s attention. Still, George Washington is a great tribute to this seminal figure in American history. Stewart’s attention to detail and consummate research make it a must read.
PositiveThe Washington Independent Review of Books... [an] ambitious, multilayered story ... succeeds on many levels, despite the inevitable comparisons with Lampedusa’s brilliant elegy on a Sicilian nobleman’s way of life. Not the least of the new novel’s achievements will be to inspire readers to open Lampedusa’s novel, even for a second time ... Lampedusa’s restrained tone gives the story the enchanted feel of a fable, though that tone belies the audacity of Price’s undertaking: imagining the imagination of a great writer, peering into why and how he writes. It is a fascinating journey.
RaveWashington Independent Review of Books...it turns out that we needed another book about Lincoln. This one. In Courting Mr. Lincoln, Louis Bayard, an accomplished historical novelist, breathes life into the massive cultural icon whom we know so well, but really don’t have much of a clue about ... Nothing is easy for these characters...But they are real and powerful and will stick in your head when you’re done ... Read the book. You’ll thank me.
Joseph J. Ellis
MixedThe Washington PostThe treatments of each subject can be uneven; it’s very likely that different readers will find different sections uneven, depending on where they agree with Ellis ... The book offers less on current race relations, a topic that confounds most commentators, though its focus on a \'biracial\' America can feel dated in the midst of our multiracial reality ... In discussing law, and spotlighting James Madison, Ellis is less surefooted, overstating judicial rulings he dislikes while pronouncing that the Supreme Court has become \'the dominant branch of the federal government\' on domestic policy. The tone grows bitter, dismissing Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion on the Second Amendment ... Ellis’s powerful epigram captures why we now have so much war: \'It is not declared, few have to fight, and no one has to pay.\' Or maybe you would argue the point. Ellis will oblige you.
Annette Gordon Reed and Peter S. Onuf
PositiveThe Washington PostMost Blessed of the Patriarchs cannot entirely avoid compiling the sort of despairing catalogue of the great man’s hypocrisies that the authors set out to transcend ... [the authors'] approach yields a stimulating graduate seminar on topics in Jefferson studies, shedding welcome light on subjects such as Jefferson’s passionate attachment to music and his tenacious insistence that a person’s religious beliefs are nobody else’s business. For a reader coming to Jefferson for the first or even second time, however, the structure might be challenging.