PositiveSan Francisco Review of BooksKristin Kobes Du Mez...has assembled all the top personalities and all the turning points in a fast-moving, if stomach-churning history that ultimately explains how America adopted Donald Trump. It is less than pretty ... There is a ton of irony throughout the book ... All in all, Jesus and John Wayne makes Christian evangelicals look like a very ugly cult. Unlike so many others that bloom, fester and disappear, this one has staying power. It is successful, and it is a shame.
RaveSan Francisco Review of Books...an unabashed fan, talking to unabashed fanatics with credentials ... Williams\' book is an easy read. She is a storyteller, and has involved herself in her stories. What with the automatic prejudice in favor of the subject matter, The Language of Butterflies is a pleasure to read.
RaveThe San Francisco Review of Books... hardhitting ... an apocalyptic view of American politics, not religion ... As Posner demonstrates ever more clearly and precisely, Trump and his unholy minions are heading the United States into a state of inequality it has never known ... Posner has been living this beat for decades. She attends the conferences, interviews pastors and televangelists, and is generally well known in these circles. Not to mention well read. The result in terrific insight, rationally laid out for the reader to appreciate in its true depth.
RaveSan Francisco Review of BooksFinancial investigative journalist Liam Vaughan seems to have had the time of his life putting together Flash Crash. But then, the story is so rich with characters and so bizarre in its nature, that as he admits at the end—someone had to write a book on it. It is a case of truth stranger than fiction ... The book is fast-paced, extremely engaging, and an easy read, despite the complexity of futures trading. Vaughan has done an excellent job of making it accessible and even exciting. It\'s a hard one to put down.
RaveThe San Francisco Review of Books... charming and engaging ... wanders globally and throughout history, with Mask injecting history lessons with great storytelling abilities ... a delight.
MixedThe San Francisco Review of BooksYou could be forgiven for thinking it is a book about what goes into our food, about how chemicals interact with each other and our organs, or comparing the damage done by alternating, well, ingredients. It is none of those. George Zaidan has instead written a book about data ... As such, the book is a terrific educational tool, thickening the skin of readers who like to peruse and believe the health, fitness and food pages on the internet ... If you like chemical bond drawings of compounds and dissecting full studies — and not just the topline summaries you get in internet news — this is a helpful introduction ... Zaidan loves swear words. He seems to prefer them to scientific words...He also likes dropping pop cultural references into explanations, which cuts down the number of readers who can understand what he’s writing ... So while it might be valuable for those who are serious about their food science, it seems to be written for 16 year-olds ... I’m not really sure who the audience is for Ingredients ... garishly overdecorated ... There are precious few non-data takeaways in the book.
PanSan Francisco Review of BooksTo me these cycles, lasting as short as Friedman specifies, might as well not be accounted for at all. He does not make the case they are distinct and recognizable to anyone but him ... Friedman spends a chapter explaining how the USA is an empire in denial, a reluctant empire, an immature empire, and not a particularly competent empire, using too little or too much force, largely dependent on Russian involvement for its efforts. Nothing could be further from the truth ... He also forces things to fit his theory ... Finally, this theory is only valid in the USA, it seems. It is special for Americans alone. Which doesn’t help its standing as a theory.
PositiveSan Francisco Book ReviewBarnes sets it up as a mystery, piecing together clues. For someone who has never heard the name Pozzi before, it is quite a revelation and quite a trip. It reads like a Six Degrees of Separation. Pozzi’s connections alone were more than sufficient to tell the story, but Barnes connects to his connections’ connections, their friends, lovers, haters, critics, customers, managers and acquaintances. And then their connections too ... With all the celebrity connections, the cattiness, criticism and outright bashing takes up a lot of space ... Still a neat concept though, and Barnes presents it dramatically and entertainingly. Oddly, the conclusion features, of all things, Brexit, and how the British government is screwing up the country and its future. No argument from me, but it sits uncomfortably with such in-depth profiles of rich characters from a hundred and fifty years ago. And mostly French at that.
PositiveThe San Francisco Review of Books... a very dark depressing journey, which fortunately ends on a note of hope. Mark O’Connell is a very self-conscious writer. He is aware of the contradictions in everyday life, the conflicts in his own being, and the privilege he enjoys as a white, middle class Irish author. His examination of where we seem to be heading exploits all of those things in his own personality ... a very different premise for a book, but O’Connell is an intelligent analyst, and he makes it work.
RaveThe San Francisco Review of BooksIf you like being scared, read Anne Nelson’s Shadow Network ... It is so dramatic and complex, Nelson feels she has to provide a Dramatis Personae – a list of the major players, organizations, religious influencers and media manipulators. The book itself is a chronological climb to the top ... The task of putting this whole story together is nothing shy of monumental ... Nelson has done an outstanding job of putting the hidden and disparate pieces together and making a coherent, if horrifying story out of it. She shows the connections between the organizations, the direction from the top, and resulting backward steps this movement is imposing on the country. It makes sense of the chaos that has become Washington’s daily routine. Unfortunately.
Gilbert M. Gaul
PositiveThe San Francisco Review of BooksGilbert Gaul shows unmistakably what we thought we knew all along: disaster relief and flood insurance have become a stealth entitlement for the wealthy. In his excellent The Geography of Risk, Gaul piles up the evidence through research, interviews and actual examination. It is a patient and relentless investigation.
Harriet A. Washington
PositiveSan Francisco Review of BooksIn chapters jam-packed with statistics and scientific findings, Washington shows that blacks get Alzheimer’s at twice the rate of suburban whites who don’t live with the same polluted air, soil and water ... There is also a lot of repetition. The book could have been a faster read with even more impact given some more editing. But overall, it is a shocking wakeup call to end the voluntary stupidity that racism foists on the vulnerable.
PositiveMediumWe have abandoned human stories for ever more extreme situations. Everything seems to be based on superheroes lifted from 1950s comic books for 15 year old white boys. To attribute left or right wing political expressions to these setups is a bit of a stretch ... But Biskind successfully makes the case that films exhibit these properties, consistently and thoroughly, intentionally or not. And he has great fun doing it. Peter Biskind is very entertaining himself. He swerves in and out of Trump, Bush, Reagan and Nixon criticism. This is not mere Hollywood gossip. Biskind references the likes of Chomsky, Locke and Shakespeare in his comparisons and analyses. He describes films in loving detail so that even though I have not seen many of them (to my own satisfaction after reading this), I have a total handle on the plot and the characters (without having to sit through 11 years of the tv series). The book never sags, but there isn’t a crying need for so much reconfirmation. I got it, early on ... I particularly like Biskind’s habit of changing endings. If a film is centrist, the character in question would necessarily end up a certain way, but if the same film were extremist, his/her fate would have been much different, and Biskind describes it perfectly.
RaveWhoWhatWhyLeDuff dug deep. And he was persistent as well as creative. He got his stories, often at great risk to his own life and the lives of his cameramen ... LeDuff is perceptive ... The book is as breezy as his speech—street-level straight talk, and salty. It’s a reading pleasure that makes the content easier to take ... LeDuff is a fine storyteller, a hardworking journalist and an honest witness (with all the weaknesses of honest witnesses). I wouldn’t want him running the country (he actually recommended himself to Trump as VP), but he’s a great one to have on your side.