RaveThe New York Review of BooksHas bracing and revelatory things to say about American culture in the 1940s; also, by contrast and implication, about American culture today. The book brings into focus intellectual and emotional realities of the decade during and after World War II that current historical memory largely occludes behind heroicizing or condescending stereotypes ... redraws the cultural map of the 1940s by tracing connections that critics and historians have mostly ignored ... The culture and literature of the 1940s were, Hutchinson found when writing about them, \'both unexpected and inspiring.\' As is this book.
RaveBook PostBaker’s book is an extraordinarily deft account of the complexities of love and empire ... What makes it fascinating is that it tells the large historical story of the end of empire in India as a set of personal experiences that can’t be reduced to a sequence of public events or mass movements ... The world that Baker portrays is one held together by connections that extend across continents, connections that I take for granted in big historical novels like Tolstoy’s but never expect to find in history ... The book’s narrative style is inseparable from its conception of history: it illustrates the essential inwardness of historical experience, and its unexpected conjunctions and coincidences evoke the miscellaneous reality of ordinary life ... Baker has crafted a satisfying and elegant book about extraordinary men and women who have been mostly forgotten by history.
PositiveThe New York TimesSarah Bakewell’s previous book was an engaging biography of Montaigne that was also a subtle exposition of Montaigne’s writings. Its audacious title was 'How to Live,' and her new book deserves to be read as a further study in the same enlivening theme.