PositiveThe New York TimesRauch’s subject, in The Constitution of Knowledge, is the building of human understanding. He takes us on a historical tour of how a range of thinkers (Socrates, Hobbes, Rousseau, Montaigne, Locke, Mill, Hume, Popper) sought truth, came to embrace uncertainty, learned to test hypotheses and created scientific communities ... There’s a limit to Rauch’s position [...] I wish he’d grappled more with the tensions between sidelining the haters and taking them on.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewPacker’s slim book, Last Best Hope, begins with patriotic despair ... Packer is at his best when he ties his thesis about Americans’ loss of the art of self-government to the inequality that he has covered extensively and intimately in his career as a journalist ... But Packer’s lens of analysis is economic.
T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThough stranger rape isn’t the norm for sexual assault, or the focus of the sexual misconduct fueling the #MeToo moment in which this book appears, it offers broadly relevant lessons ... Miller and Armstrong tell their story plainly, expertly and well. It’s gripping and needs no dressing up.
PanSlate[Cusk] dissects the breakup of her marriage and, as the title tells us, what followed for her and her daughters. The book is part puzzle and part disappointment. The image on the cover is a cracked plate, and as it opens, it’s as if Cusk has picked up the jagged shards and driven them into the heart of her marriage, to make sure it’s really dead … Maybe such an overwrought indictment of marriage is plausible, or even necessary, for Cusk in the throes of her gory divorce. But I wonder if she’ll wake up in a few years and read these pages as artifact rather than felt truth. I also wonder if being in the throes of a breakup just tends to undo good writers.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewKrakauer doesn’t seem to have spoken to Johnson or Washburn. And it’s not clear that he spoke to any prosecutors or police officers in Missoula, or to university officials. As a result, the book feels one-sided. It also lacks texture. Much of the story is told through transcripts of court proceedings or recordings of police interviews and news coverage. Krakauer doesn’t take us inside the student culture at the university or the community of Missoula. He lets his contempt for certain city officials show, but they’re neither memorable villains nor three-dimensional characters afforded the opportunity to explain themselves ... More generally, Krakauer doesn’t fully grapple with the complexities of campus sexual assault.
Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewTurning the pages, I felt as if I were on a tour of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Museum with two conscientious and loving young curators...This book isn’t a critical assessment of Ginsburg, either as a litigator waging feminist battles in the 1970s, or a justice for the last 22 years.