RaveThe Washington Post... as Fredrik Logevall shows in his superb JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956, Kennedy was a far deeper, worthier, more interesting character than the familiar revisionist cliche ... Why should you read the umpteenth book about the most famous of Kennedys? Whole forests have been cut down to explain the Kennedy myth. The short answer is that Logevall’s book is smart and very readable ... Logevall has a gifted historian’s grasp of the times as well as the life of JFK. At more than 600 pages of text, his book is long and ends four years before Kennedy is elected president. But this reader had trouble putting it down.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... absorbing ... Perlstein doesn’t point out the irony, but he doesn’t need to. The joy of this book, and the reason it remains fresh for nearly a thousand pages of text, is that personality and character constantly confound the conventional wisdom ... Perlstein is never deterministic, and his sharp insights into human quirks and foibles make all of his books surprising and fun, if a little smart-alecky at times ... a small, redeeming moment in Perlstein’s overspilling narrative, but the glimpse into Reagan’s conscience is characteristic of Perlstein’s storytelling. Reagan is hardly a hero to Perlstein, whose own politics are to the left. But in this description, the former movie actor turned politician is intensely human, and capable of empathy, or at least shame ... full of portents for the current day.
PositiveThe Boston GlobeTye captures \'Low Blow Joe\' in all his shambolic ingloriousness. A former Boston Globe reporter and author of a well-regarded Bobby Kennedy biography, Tye is a relentless digger, and he had more access than earlier historians — McCarthy’s family papers and medical records were, for the first time, opened to him, and he was able to mine long secret congressional transcripts. The result is an epic expose that may overwhelm readers with its detail but will leave them shaking their heads over the rise and fall of the greatest demagogue in American history, with the possible exception of the current White House incumbent ... Tye calls President Eisenhower \'enabler in chief\' and accuses him of a \'policy of appeasement\' against McCarthy. This judgment is too harsh. True, Eisenhower was slow to stand up to the senator from Wisconsin, but as historian David Nichols and others have shown, Eisenhower effectively worked behind the scenes to wreck McCarthy, or perhaps better said, enable him to destroy himself.
RaveThe Washington PostThe pieces, in one way or another, express the joy of writing and offer advice, direct and indirect, on leading a life well lived. There is a certain random quality to the selection, and the book is not even Rosenblatt’s first on writing (in 2011, he published a similar collection ... But Rosenblatt’s writing brims with creativity and insight, and the casual browser will be richly rewarded ... Rosenblatt is so effortlessly charming that one wonders if it doesn’t come a little too easy. But then, the reader learns that this golden boy of letters has suffered a truly terrible and shocking loss ... His knack, as I recall from my days at Time, was to see what everyone else saw, only, somehow, more clearly and more movingly.
PositiveThe Washington PostIn The Bomb, his excellent history of nuclear war and its long shadow, Fred Kaplan...uses more recently released classified documents to focus on the actual policymakers, describing with lucidity and a healthy dose of dark irony their trips down the rabbit hole ... Kaplan’s book is a timely reminder of the need to take a deep breath before thinking the unthinkable.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewHulse is not a knee-jerk Trump critic ... As a longtime Washington correspondent, Hulse is an expert guide through the machinations on Capitol Hill. He does not offer any revelations about Kavanaugh, searingly accused of sexual assault as a high school student. But he offers a telling scene of McGahn coaching Kavanaugh to push back, hard, against his congressional inquisitors.
William D. Cohan
PositiveThe Washington PostWilliam D. Cohan’s Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short is an engaging, unsettling book. His story of the untimely, violent departures of four of his schoolmates may make the reader feel angry at the sheer waste and carelessness of their deaths. It is also an intensely humane work by a skillful writer of nonfiction narrative who knows how to make you forgive even as he damns ... all of his characters are sympathetic, even if you want to smack their pretty heads.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... engrossing, comprehensive ... Weiner has a good eye for embarrassing detail ... by using tens of thousands of declassified documents and on-the-record recollections of dozens of chagrined spymasters, Weiner paints what may be the most disturbing picture yet of C.I.A. ineptitude. After following along Weiner’s march of folly, readers may wonder: Is an open democracy capable of building and sustaining an effective secret intelligence service? Maybe not. But with Islamic terrorists vowing to set off a nuclear device in an American city, there isn’t much choice but to keep on trying.
Robert A. Caro
PositiveThe Washington Post[Caro] shares tips on researching, interviewing and writing, showcased in wonderful, revealing, often funny anecdotes ... a slender volume, but its real theme goes far beyond authorial tradecraft. Caro’s own life has been an epic of human endeavor, a tale of obsession ... Caro, the memoirist, is unforthcoming. In part, he is an old-school newspaperman who dislikes employing the first-person pronoun.
RaveThe Boston GlobeThough Lepore’s survey ranges widely—and is especially revealing about the manipulation of public opinion—slavery (\'America’s Achilles’ heel\') is at the heart of her saga. Lepore mines fascinating details about the slaves who worked for the founders. Such tales, while eye-opening, are dispiriting. And yet, Lepore makes clear: The achievement of the founders was remarkable in light of most of humankind’s history, where power had usually changed hands by force or coercion ... Lepore is gloomy about the present day. She clearly worries that populist demagogues and \'cyberutopians\' will push the country in the wrong direction. But I read her book as showing why America is resilient enough to withstand Donald Trump and the disrupters of Silicon Valley, or far worse. My one quibble is that she shortchanges American economic dynamism ... It is...the sort of book that would make college students (and their parents) want to read history and to learn why it matters.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewRumsfeld has written a kind of modern-day Pilgrim’s Progress about a good and godly man who enters the Slough of Despond (Washington, D.C.), is tried and tempted, but ascends to Celestial City with his virtue intact. That the narrator is a figure who has been likened in some quarters to Beelzebub makes the story more interesting, or at least curious ... It would have been easy enough to cast the earnest, well-meaning Ford as a bit of a chump, but Rumsfeld portrays him as an honorable and brave man ... he offers us a reassuring morality tale of virtue if not immediately rewarded, then ultimately redeemed.
Michael Kranish & Marc Fisher
RaveThe Washington Post...there is no Rosebud here, no epiphany that explains it all. But the many revealing scenes cohere into a fascinating portrait ... In a vignette at once slightly comical and chilling, Trump discovers, or is discovered by, the malevolent Roy Cohn. The year is 1973, and Trump, scion of an outer-borough housing developer, is trying to make the jump from the bridge-and-tunnel crowd to the Manhattan glitterati...In the bar of Le Club, Trump finds a man with hooded eyes and a scarred face — the sinister Cohn, Sen. Joe McCarthy’s henchman, who has long since clawed back from McCarthy’s televised downfall in the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings to become a potent lawyer/fixer in Manhattan. Young Donald explains to Cohn that he has a problem: His real estate company has been sued by the state for racial bias. Trump says he is thinking of settling the case. Nonsense, says Cohn. You never settle: Hit back. Countersue. Trump promptly hires Cohn, the beginning of a beautiful friendship ... It was apparent that Trump had no friends, outside his immediate family ... Trump the outrageous poseur becomes sadder and more real in this fine book.