PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewDavid Rohde...raises more questions than he answers ... Some of the book’s most fascinating passages trace the rise of William Barr, Trump’s attorney general ... Rohde highlights Barr’s activism, along with a small group of other conservative lawyers, in the Federalist Society and the Catholic Information Center, which now exercise enormous influence ... The tale of these groups is worth an entire book.
Guy M Snodgrass
MixedThe New York Review of BooksFor a glimpse of the story [Mattis] doesn’t tell, there’s Holding the Line: Inside Trump’s Pentagon with Secretary Mattis by his former chief speechwriter, Guy Snodgrass ... It’s a weirdly schizophrenic book—half swooning hagiography, half bitter critique. The prose is workmanlike at best ... Yet in part because of his frequent cooing about his subject (\'one of the most storied living leaders in our armed forces…my kind of leader…extremely modest and self-effacing\'”), Snodgrass has produced a devastating portrait, making clear the failure of Mattis’s tenure in the Pentagon, fatal weaknesses in his character, and the plain fact that, valiant as his service was as a marine, he was unsuited for this, his sole civilian job in public life.
MixedSlate...a terrific read. Caro paints palpable scenes and draws vivid characters ... But two things make this book less essential than the others. First, unlike the other volumes, the era it treads is hardly unpaved territory ... But my second problem is much more serious: Caro’s treatment of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis—and of the roles that Johnson and the Kennedy brothers (especially Robert Kennedy) played in the crisis—is, on several levels, simply wrong ... Caro left many pages—whole documents—unturned, unread, unopened. Either that, or (a more troubling and, my guess is, less likely possibility) he chopped and twisted the record to make it fit his narrative ... Caro’s analysis of LBJ’s hawkishness is misleading; his depiction of RFK’s dovishness is untrue.
John Lewis Gaddis
PositiveThe New York Times... turns out to be not only an epic work —probing, engrossing, occasionally revelatory — but also a well-timed one. It appears just as its subject has been nearly forgotten and long enough after the 20th century has passed to appreciate his towering significance ... The book may not match the sweeping elegance of Edmund Morris’s series on Theodore Roosevelt or Robert Caro’s on Lyndon Johnson (or, for that matter, Kennan’s own 1967 memoir). But Mr. Gaddis is a fine enough writer; the story flows breezily; and several scenes are vivid, even gripping — most notably the accounts of Kennan’s private meetings with Franklin Roosevelt and, much later, his embrace from Mikhail S. Gorbachev ... Alas, Mr. Gaddis’s masterly telling of how, in this sense, Kennan became Kennan suggests that we may have seen the last of his kind.
RaveSlate...one of the best books ever written on the subject—certainly the most honest and revealing account by an insider who plunged deep into the nuclear rabbit hole’s mad logic and came out the other side ... it’s rare to get the history laid out in such human detail by someone who was so immersed in the scene ... The marvel of Ellsberg’s book is that he captures that world from both of those angles—that of the ground-burrower who can’t see past his confining premises and that of the mile-high flyer who views the landscape in its full moral context—without flinching from the fact that he has occupied both of those personas in his lifetime with equal measures of passion.