PanNY Journal of BooksThe Schlesinger who oversaw the early polls that ranked Jackson so high, of course, was Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Age of Jackson, which lauded Old Hickory as a powerful president who ushered in a greater democratic order in the United States....Brown’s Jackson is a dueler, a \'slaveholder, architect of Indian removal, and a critic of abolitionism\'...Jackson, Brown writes, \'ruled by agitating, confronting, and dividing,\' developed a \'cult of personality,\' and \'practiced a politics of disruption and populism, while fostering and anti-establishment ethos\'...The old Democratic Party hero has become a villain for those who judge historical figures by contemporary values, standards, and ideologies...So Schlesinger’s hagiography has been replaced by Brown’s political correctness...And our times suffer from an ideological wokeness that is obsessed with pulling down statues, renaming schools and military bases, re-interpreting history, and revising our estimates of historical figures who don’t measure-up to 21st century sensibilities...For Brown, Jackson’s politics prefigured Trump in racial animosities, populism, and partisanship...Brown’s liberal ideological bias is clear for all to see.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksReveals new facts and insights into the very consequential presidency of Richard Nixon ... Fascinating and page-turning ... The most interesting and revealing chapters of the book deal with Chapin’s involvement in planning and executing Nixon’s trips to China to establish formal relations with the communist regime ... Chapin persuasively contends that he did nothing criminal and was swept up in the mostly political and media-driven prosecutions ... This is also a very introspective book.
MixedNew York Journal of Books... a very conventional book about Truman’s presidency. It is not quite the hagiographic work of David McCullough’s Truman but also does not measure up to Alonzo Hamby’s more discerning Man of the People ... When it comes to Truman’s Asia policies, however, there is a huge gap in Frank’s history—American policy toward postwar China is dealt with only tangentially.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksBhattacharya shows that von Neumann’s national security work was just a part of his scientific contributions that have more broadly shaped the world we live in ... The author...treats us to mini-biographies of the scientists and theorists who stood (and still stand) on the shoulders of von Neumann ... [An] impressive biography.
Ambrogio a Caiani
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... riveting ... deftly explores the test of wills between the French emperor and Roman Catholic pontiff in the aftermath of the French Revolution and in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars ... important and wonderfully written.
MixedThe New York Journal of Books... throughout the book, Ireland too often slips into amateur psychology ... a well-written, extensively researched book that explores the interesting but troubled relationship between a world-famous father and his son. But its attempt to shift blame for Randolph’s behavior to his father is flawed. Randolph Churchill made his own choices throughout his adult life—mostly bad ones. And just as a son cannot be blamed for the sins of his father, Winston Churchill should not be blamed for the sins of his son.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... balanced and fair in its assessments of the man and his imprint on our nation’s history ... Elder and Basic Books are to be applauded for their courage and devotion to historical truth ... presents an unvarnished portrait of one of the nation’s most powerful political figures during the decades leading up to the Civil War ... Elder is careful to consider Calhoun’s perspectives and conduct within the historical framework of mid-19th century America, without downplaying their moral failings.
Robert P. Watson
PositiveNew York Journal of Books... while Watson at times overreaches with some of his judgments...he tells a fascinating tale of political intrigue and struggle that further enhances Washington’s status as the greatest American ... Watson makes clear...it was Washington’s great vision and political skill that led to the creation of Washington, D.C. In this endeavor, too, he was the \'indispensable man.\'
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksJohn Kelly, who has previously written narrative histories of the Black Death, the Irish famine, and the early stages of the Second World War, engagingly revisits the turbulent and often strained relationships between the U.S., Britain, and Soviet Russia in their war against Nazi Germany and her Axis partners in his new book Saving Stalin.
Ronald Grigor Suny
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksUniversity of Michigan history professor Ronald Grigor Suny has written a massive, extensively researched biography of Josef Stalin’s early years.
Thomas A. Schwartz
MixedNew York Journal of BooksThe author recognizes Kissinger’s (and Nixon’s) accomplishments—the opening to China, triangular diplomacy with China and the Soviet Union, shuttle diplomacy in the Middle East—but sees politics and personal ambition as the driving force of policy. This is unfair to Kissinger (and to Nixon, for that matter) ... His three-volume memoirs get short shrift in Schwartz’s book but they are—especially the first two volumes—among the best-written and informative memoirs of any American policymaker ... Kissinger...is not the war criminal or the Machiavellian demon that his detractors make him out to be. He was a great if flawed public servant—above all a patriot who like Bismarck, traveled the current of history and attempted, however imperfectly, to steer the nation to safety and security.
PanThe New York Journal of BooksHow does one explain a 21st century book about Klaus Fuchs, a committed communist who provided atomic secrets to Stalin’s Soviet Union during and after World War II, that sympathizes with its subject? Does the author, Nancy Thorndike Greenspan, know nothing about the history of communism in power? Does she know nothing about an ideology that is responsible for the deaths of more than 100 million people? ... This book proves that the abstract \'ideal\' of communism has not died for some people despite the empirical evidence of communism in power. Klaus Fuchs does not deserve our sympathy for siding with and aiding one of the most vicious tyrannies in history. His \'conscience\' and \'ideals\' led him to betray his adopted country of England to a regime that ultimately sought to enslave England’s people. To forthrightly answer the author’s concluding questions: what Klaus Fuchs did was evil, he was guilty, and he was a traitor.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksGewen presents a vivid, insightful, but unsparing portrait of Kissinger’s intellectual development and boundless ambition as he journeyed from Nazi Germany, to the U.S. Army, to academia, to the inner circles of power in Washington.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThroughout the book, Larson focuses on individual human dramas ... Larson does not neglect the German side ... The Splendid and the Vile is a tale of courage, perseverance, sacrifice, fear, tragedy, human drama, and ultimately, inspiration for free peoples everywhere. In the end, Larson’s book further confirms historian John Lukacs’ observation that in the most extreme of circumstances—alone against a ruthless, horrible totalitarian onslaught—Churchill and the British people saved Western Civilization.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... provocative and well-argued ... Christopher Caldwell may be on the receiving end of the slings and arrows of the liberal governmental and cultural elite he scorns in this book. He may be called a \'bigot\' or a \'white nationalist\' or worse. Or, hopefully, his erudite arguments will be debated, analyzed and discussed on their merits without rancor or venom.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksMann goes beyond policy and philosophical differences to portray Cheney as a dark (i.e, \'conservative,\' \'right-wing\') and sinister (\'neoconservative,\' \'hawk\') force who exercised too much influence over the inexperienced Bush 43. Powell, on the other hand, is portrayed as prudent, moderate, measured, diplomatic, George Marshall-like.
Douglas R. Egerton
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksEgerton views the children and grandchildren of John Quincy Adams through the lens of progressivism. It is a distorting view. It projects modern values—racial equality and equal rights for women—onto a historical era that was mostly inhospitable to such values ... a fascinating tale of public success combined with private turmoil and tragedy, not unlike other American political dynasties such as the Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Rockefellers ... Egerton’s book supplements but does not replace Francis Russell’s Adams: An American Dynasty. Russell’s book focused more on John Adams and John Quincy Adams, but treated their descendants with fairness and historical humility. Egerton should take note.
S. C. Gwynne
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksGwynne incisively examines the final year of the Civil War and the crucial role Grant and his chief lieutenants played in ending the war ... Gwynne provides a brief but telling biographical sketch of Grant ... S. C. Gwynne’s narrative of the events and personalities of the war’s last year is comparable to Jay Winik’s brilliant April 1865: The Month That Saved America, and even rivals the vivid description of these events by Shelby Foote, whose three-volume masterpiece remains the standard against which all Civil War books should be judged.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThough one can ultimately disagree with Simms’ revisionist arguments, he has made an impressive effort to challenge the conventional history of Hitler’s approach to the world and war in the 1930s and 1940s. This book will cause many to rethink long held beliefs and notions about Hitler and the Second World War.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books[An] important and timely study of Maoism as a global phenomenon ... Lovell shows that although Maoism originally focused on mobilizing poor agrarians, its appeal in the West was largely confined to upper- and middle-class intellectuals ... Less convincingly, Lovell claims that Maoism deserves some credit for eroding the social and cultural conservatism that resisted the movements for civil rights, gay rights, and women’s rights in the West. Even her admittedly loose definition of Maoism is stretched too far for that claim ... The West needs to overcome its amnesia with respect to Maoism’s global ambitions. Lovell’s study of Maoism as a global history could not be more timely.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksWhite’s selection of writers is revealing. By including Howard Fast, Richard Wright, Mary McCarthy, Graham Greene, John Le Carre, and Gioconda Belli, White seeks to be even-handed in his treatment of writers who opposed communism and those who were often critical of the United States and the West. There are murmurs of moral equivalency here that are unwarranted. The sufferings of literary dissidents under communism bear no comparison to writers who dissented from U.S. or Western policies during the Cold War. White seems to believe that writers who willingly served the interests of the United States during the Cold War were no different from writers who willingly served the interests of the Soviet state ... The best part of White’s book [are] the stories of writers such as Pasternak, Solzhenitsyn, Sinyavsky, Havel, and others who courageously wrote and spoke the truth to power behind the iron curtain ... he gives too much credit to Gorbachev and not enough credit to Reagan, and no credit at all to Pope John Paul II who himself was a writer and intellectual of considerable merit. Indeed, it is arguable that John Paul II’s spoken and written words did more to bring down the iron curtain than any writer discussed by White.
Jean Edward Smith
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksBiographer and historian Jean Edward Smith...tells the fascinating story of Paris’ liberation and credits three soldiers—French General de Gaulle, American General Dwight Eisenhower, and German General Dietrich von Choltitz—with saving the ‘city of light\' ... Smith details the movement of French troops into Paris, their interaction with Resistance forces, and the small-scale fighting that resulted in relatively small numbers of casualties.
Christian B. Keller
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksChristian Keller has proven once again that we can still learn much from the history of the American Civil War. The Great Partnership is a thought-provoking book on leadership relations based on the mostly successful partnership of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
David L Roll
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksWhat is missing from an otherwise brilliant portrait of a great man and leader is the source of Marshall’s character. Roll for some unknown reason devotes only a few paragraphs to Marshall’s childhood years growing up in the 1880s and 1890s in Uniontown, a rugged coal-town in southwestern Pennsylvania.
M. Taylor Fravel
PositiveAsian Review of Books...informative ... Fravel approaches his task as if writing a doctoral thesis. He begins with overviews of the book and his argument or theory ... Fravel’s argument or theory has two main components: the motivations for strategic changes and the mechanism for imposing strategic changes ... None of these factors are static. As they change, strategy will change. Fravel understands and writes about these factors, but they tend to get overshadowed by his devotion to political science theory ... This is really a book about Chinese military thought at the tactical and operational level.
MixedThe Asian Review of Books... fascinating ... [Anand\'s] perspective is very much an Indian one—that doesn’t make it wrong, just incomplete. The British perspective is not entirely missing from her book, but it is given relatively short shrift ... It is not the facts that divide Anand’s and some British viewpoints; it is their differing perspectives.
PositiveBookPage\"What comes shining through on page after page of this book is that a sizeable portion of the population of the colonies (perhaps a third or more) thought of themselves as a separate people, a separate nation. For them, there was no turning back to direct rule by London ... The British Are Coming is history written in a grand style and manner. It leaves one anxiously awaiting the next two volumes.\
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksRick Atkinson is emerging as America’s most talented military historian ... history written in a grand style and manner. It leaves one anxiously awaiting the next two volumes.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksIn this book, the personal overwhelms the political. Wars and diplomatic events are the sideshows to court intrigue, Louis’s sexual dalliances, gossip, the petty rivalries among of the men and women of the king’s entourage, and lavish entertaining ... There are some useful passages devoted to key ministers such as Mazarin and Colbert. Wilkinson notes the increasing costs of Louis’ wars and the consequent effects on the French people. Again, it’s not that Wilkinson ignores key historical events, but her emphasis throughout the book on the personal Louis obscures the reasons why biographies of the Sun King are so important ... It is perhaps fitting that she concludes her biography with the chronology and details of Louis’s last days and death without offering reflections on his rule and its importance to French and European history.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksIt is evident from Khanna’s anti-Western perspective (which he does little to hide throughout the book) that he is cheering Asia on as it competes for global predominance. He is an unapologetic defender of Asia’s authoritarian regimes, including China’s. He is highly critical of U.S. policies and of democracy in general. He substitutes the phrase \'technocratic governance\' for authoritarian but that doesn’t change the nature of the regimes he admires ... Kahnna’s preference for world order is rule by a small, technocratic elite focused on \'state capacity\' rather than liberty and individual rights. It is as if the terrible lessons of the 20th century have been unlearned or forgotten ... Fortunately, Khanna’s vision of Asia is at least premature ... National identities are still strong in Asia. Not all Asians are comfortable with China’s rise and ambitions. Not all Asians want U.S. power to be removed from the region ... Parag Khanna is right that the world is becoming more multipolar. China’s challenge to the Western world order is real. How the U.S. responds to that challenge will determine whether \'the future is Asian.\'
RaveNew York Journal of BooksEvery Krauthammer column is a joy to read—whether you agree or disagree with his particular position on a specific political issue or personality—because he combined graceful writing, compelling logic, brilliant argument, and well-reasoned and thought-provoking analysis ... Daniel Krauthammer...writes a splendid introduction and moving eulogy of his father ... The longest essay in The Point of It All ... is almost Spenglerian in its pessimism about the West. One can only hope that in this instance, unlike most others, Krauthammer’s gifts of observation and analysis failed him.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksIt is a tale of the first stirrings of freedom in the West mixed with the fear of further Soviet retribution, the unceasing demands of celebrity, frustration with the Western elite’s commercialism, secularism, and legalism, and the personal desire to be left alone to complete his most important literary project, The Red Wheel ... Notre Dame Press...is to be commended for continuing to enrich our understanding of the great Russian writer. As this book makes abundantly clear, Solzhenitsyn was above all a Russian patriot and literary artist whose writings were intended to expose the truth of Soviet mendacity and, hopefully, help to revive Russia’s religious and cultural traditions within an evolving democratic process.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksBrookhiser has perfected the art of brief, concise, and reflective biographies of America’s founding generation ...Brookhiser’s last chapter, which examines Marshall’s legacy, is a masterpiece of concise analysis.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books... Groom rightly judges Churchill and Roosevelt to be great war leaders ... Winston Groom’s The Allies: Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin, and the Unlikely Alliance That Won World War II will hopefully help a new generation learn about the heroics, the horrors, and the tragedies of World War II.
James M. Scott
RaveThe New York Journal of Books\"Rampage is a horrifyingly unforgettable book ... reminds us once again that man’s inhumanity to man belies the notion of human progress. The massacres in Manila that he so painstakingly details, take their place among the 20th century’s most monstrous and lurid crimes.\
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"So much has been written by and about Winston Churchill that it is difficult to do him justice or write anything new about him in a single volume. Historian Andrew Roberts does both, however, in his new book Churchill: Walking with Destiny ... Roberts dutifully covers Churchill’s post-war warnings about the Soviet threat and his second premiership in the early-to-mid 1950s, including his complex relationship with Anthony Eden ... Andrew Roberts has written the best single-volume biography of Winston Churchill to date.\
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksCaptivating ... Zamoyski’s achievement in this book is to bring to life Napoleon as a person, not just a military leader and political ruler.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"It is a sobering tale of strong executive leadership often accompanied by hubris, deception, outright lying, error, political misjudgment, and unconstitutional actions ... [Beschloss\' work is an] impressive survey of presidential war...\
RaveThe Asia Review of BooksSam Kleiner...has written a terrific book about the courageous and daring American pilots who helped China resist the Japanese onslaught and helped the U.S. and its allies win the Second World War in East Asia. Contrary to the book’s subtitle, the Flying Tigers’ war did not remain secret for long (U.S. newspapers regaled their readers with accounts of the Tigers’ heroics) and it has been told many times before. That said, Kleiner tells the story better than it has been told before ... Kleiner in this book brings the real Claire Chennault to life again, and relates the equally compelling stories of other individual pilots—their heroism, fears, loves, hates, friendships, and tragedies; all against the dramatic and horrific backdrop of World War II in East Asia.
Bret Baier, Catherine Whitney
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books...refering to President Reagan’s trip to Moscow in late May 1988 ... fast-paced account of Ronald Reagan and the end of the Cold War.
PositiveAsian Review of Books\"Kurtz-Phelan’s account places equal blame for the failure of Marshall’s mission on Nationalist and Communist \'hardliners.\' But that misses the point. Marshall’s mission was doomed before it began. As James Burnham and others pointed out at the time and later, even before the guns of the Second World War fell silent, communist forces in China shifted their focus from fighting Japan to preparing for the postwar struggle for power ... The China Mission is an important reminder about the limits of American diplomacy. Marshall, like many US statesmen before and after him, fell prey to the idea that the rest of the world could be persuaded to solve disputes through an American lens.\
Robert D. Kaplan
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksHis latest book, The Return of Marco Polo’s World, is a collection of articles written between 2001 and the present that combines elegant writing with a masterful grasp of global geopolitical realities ... Kaplan, like Kissinger, understands that idealism has always influenced American foreign policy. His latest book will hopefully help American policymakers to, in Mackinder’s words, 'adjust our ideals of freedom to [the] lasting realities of our earthly home.'
PositiveThe Asian Review of BooksKurlantzick grippingly describes the war’s key battles on the Plain of Jars, Skyline Ridge near Long Cheng, and Sala Phou Khoun. His literary portrait of Vang Pao is one of the highlights of the book ... Kurlantzick calls the covert war in Laos the CIA’s first war. He notes that in the aftermath of the Indochina War, congressional oversight and reaction to revelations of CIA activities overlooked the extent to which the agency had expanded its paramilitary activities.
PositiveThe Asian Review of Books[Campbell] offers some important insights into the emergence of what many are calling the 'Asian Century' ... Interestingly, Campbell is highly critical of FDR’s neglect of Asian affairs in the early-to-mid 1930s, and President Truman’s early postwar disengagement from Asia ... There is nothing controversial or provocative there. But his approach to the pivot is largely based on a progressive outlook.