PositiveLos Angeles TimesMonumental ... What will remain from Confidence Man, marketed as the most insightful volume on Trump by his most insightful chronicler, is Haberman’s view of the man ... The broader question about titles like these and the scores of others weighing down the shelves of booksellers coast to coast...is: What is their ultimate contribution? ... The best that can be said for them is that gathered together — and that will be one huge gathering — they will be resources for the biographies and historical analyses of some future time ... The definitive account of the confidence man Haberman portrays is decades away. Most of us, exhausted if not repelled by the mayhem, will be content to wait.
PositiveThe Boston GlobeThough its advocates like to speak the rhetoric of abolitionism, Stewart shows us that this movement is suffused with a disturbing affinity for slavery. This is an unsettling echo of an old-time religion ... Stewart has produced both a warning about the influence of religious nationalists and, in a brisk epilogue, the beginnings of a handbook about combating religious nationalists ... This is a book that is both an examination of a new social and cultural phenomenon—and a call for action.
PositiveThe Boston GlobeIn her form-shattering and myth-crushing book...Alexis Coe does more than deal with the low-hanging fruit of the Washington cherry tree. She provides a fresh look at the first president and, just as important, at the first precedents he set ... Coe examines myths with mirth, and writes history with humor ... There is something engaging in this breezy book, and something efficient, too ... While this surely should not be the only biography of Washington students of our founding should read, it is an accessible look at a president who always finishes in the first ranks of our leaders. It is, moreover, a reminder that, in a slight revision of an unfortunate phrase, we should never forget our first.
PositiveThe Boston GlobeKlein’s On Fire is a cri de coeur and an exposition on what she calls the burning case for a Green New Deal. In rhetoric that is ablaze with passion—her metaphors run like, well, wildfire—she sets out a blistering critique of capitalism, democratic institutions, and contemporary politics ... Some of the facts she presents are—and here the language fails us—chilling ... The question is whether other minds are changeable ... Klein makes a good effort on both fronts. But that effort is marred by the architecture of this volume, which isn’t so much a book as a collection of speeches and articles, some of which seem dated ... The most effective and persuasive part of this book is in its first 53 pages, written as an introduction to what follows. In those pages she sets out her argument with a precision that matches her passion. Even so, there are important elements in the latter sections of the book ... This is a scorching volume for a heated time. The fire next time, it turns out, is now.
Jason De Parle
RaveThe Boston Globe...[an] indispensable book, a Baedeker to an unnoticed and largely unappreciated global phenomenon, and a guide to understanding not only the flow of people worldwide but also the tensions that infuse politics worldwide. This may be a portrait of Tita’s world, but it is also the portrait of the world today—a world, DeParle shows us, that is in profound transformation as millions seek to better their lives ... In these pages DeParle offers us a brisk history of immigration and immigration policy and wise reflections on contemporary migration ... he’s a historian in seeing the process with a centuries-long perspective...but is a journalist with a reporter’s eye on contemporary events, seeing how corruption, poverty, and violence spur great waves of migration.
PositiveLos Angeles TimesMusic writer and self-described astronomy geek Jonathan Scott is our cheerful tour guide on this mission, and The Vinyl Frontier is our comprehensive and comprehensible itinerary ... [a] brisk, estimable account ... Throughout this volume, Scott examines the debates and the choices and tells us how the members of this committee went out into the field (and actually once to a supermarket) to create the images they wanted [for the Golden Record].
Steven M. Gillon
MixedThe Boston Globe... compassionate, comprehensive—and confounding. Compassionate because Gillon has affectionate memories of his one-time student. Comprehensive because the 464-page volume has an air of TMI. Confounding because this book is the literary equivalent of a monorail—the answer to a question nobody asked ... Gillon has a historian’s instinct (gather every known piece of evidence, examine every primary source, interview every possible witness, get prized access to Secret Service files) and he marries it with a memoirist’s sentiment (add personal reminiscences, slice in a few personal reflections) and the result is a brisk and engaging read. But, like the tragic disappearance of Kennedy’s plane, small questions remain, and a bigger question is unavoidable. The small questions involve lapses in clarity (Ben Bradlee was not the editor of The Washington Post when President Kennedy was in office) and overreaching assertions (it’s an overstatement to say that JFK Jr.’s enrollment at Brown changed the profile of the Providence university). The bigger question is why a historian of Gillon’s profile and provenance would undertake a project like this, sure to have a popular audience, and also sure to prompt sneers from the faculty lounge. But Gillon is right about many things ... in many ways America’s Reluctant Prince is a fond and admiring adieu to a friend.
PositiveThe Boston GlobeIt turns out that despite her lack of lived experience in the tensions and tumult of ‘69, Hilderbrand is possessed of remarkable perspective on the time, the result of a good deal of research about that summer and a good ear in her various interviews about that summer. For the most part she gets the period right ... Overall this novel is an entertaining bagatelle, told by a proficient storyteller in an engaging way. There won’t be a single transistor radio this summer on Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, nor on Madaket Beach in Nantucket. But there almost certainly will be multiple copies of Summer of ‘69. It’s this year’s beach-reading cure for...the summertime blues.
PositiveThe Boston Globe... a gripping tale of insider Washington with implications far beyond the capital and far beyond our own time ... Much of what Hulse sets out is familiar to those following the news ... Hulse gives us little new insight on Kavanaugh’s private life and the accusations against him...But Hulse does provide us with an assessment of the impact of the Kavanaugh hearings, and it is a searing judgment ... The ultimate victims of the wars over the courts may be the Americans of the future. They will look back on this book, and the episodes it chronicles, with wonder, and with disappointment and disdain.
Robert A. Caro
RaveLos Angeles Times... compelling but uncharacteristic ... a feast — the only low-cal feast delivered from that venerable and venerated Smith Corona in years — for anyone interested in reading, and in writing ... This book will, alternately, terrify, humble and inspire writers. Everyone looks for shortcuts. Caro deplores them. No one likes to do multiple drafts; Caro is addicted to them ... This brisk volume might be regarded as the path to writing with power.
RaveThe Washington PostJon Ward captures the sound and the fury of this struggle [between Jimmy Carter and Edward Kennedy for the 1980 Presidential nomination] in Camelot’s End, a fast-paced, even-handed look at Kennedy’s doomed challenge to a doomed president at a time of doom and gloom ... Ward’s achievement is in showing—better than any of his predecessors—how the two circled each other warily before their public confrontation during the presidential campaign ... this is a breezy, pleasant read, a nostalgic window on a time long ago for those of us who lived (and covered) it, an instructive volume for those too young to have witnessed one of the more fascinating passages in American political life. It also provides an enduring lesson.
PositiveThe Boston Globe...one of the shrewdest, and best connected, media writers in the country; his pieces in The New Yorker are events in the media world, as this latest book, which stretches him from news to advertising, almost certainly will be ... In these pages Auletta is a painter who sketches an entirely altered ad landscape.
PositiveThe Globe and MailWith his celebrity (the son of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen), his intellectual pedigree (Rhodes Scholarship) and his remarkable experience at the age of 30 (UNICEF official, Obama administration position on humanitarian affairs for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Capitol Hill staffer), Mr. Farrow brings to his book astonishing access, and as a result, the perspectives of Henry Kissinger, Richard Holbrooke and Hillary Rodham Clinton – all three are avatars of the diplomatic arts, though reviled by rivals – are part of his outlook. (Altogether he interviewed nine secretaries of state, perhaps a North American record.) ... the theme that courses through this book is the triumph of the military perspective over the diplomatic perspective, coming to a crescendo in the Trump years ... Perhaps War on Peace should be on Mr. Pompeo’s nightstand. It won’t make for soothing bedtime reading.
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesWhat comes across clearly in this volume is that even in their early obscurity, Lincoln and [Senator Stephen] Douglas were Illinois rivals, though the struggle between the two was seldom a fair fight, for Douglas was so much more polished, so much more eloquent, so much more powerful ... in these pages we see the green shoots of the mature Lincoln — the notion, first, that his priority was saving the Union rather than eviscerating slavery; then the image, borrowed from the New Testament, of a house divided; and, finally, the rhetorical use of the preamble of the Declaration of Independence as a touchstone for his creed. What Blumenthal sets out in Wrestling With His Angel is really 'The Making of the President' — of President Abraham Lincoln and of the nation that a man without religion (but suffused with faith and religious imagery) would help become born again.