RaveThe Atlantic... heavy but pleasurable, and together the books are the richest and strongest work of McCarthy’s career ... does not stand on its own and is best understood as an appendix to The Passenger ... Critics who have doubted McCarthy’s ability to write a female character must acknowledge that she is as idiosyncratically fucked-up as any of the protagonists in his previous oeuvre ... as a pair, The Passenger and Stella Maris are an achievement greater than Blood Meridian, his best earlier work, or The Road, his best recent one. In the new novels, McCarthy again sets bravery and ingenuity loose amid inhumanity ... These novels feel like McCarthy’s effort to produce such words, and to react to the dying of the light with Sheddan’s vigor rather than Bobby’s and Alicia’s despair. The results are not weakly flickering. They are incandescent with life.
RaveThe AtlanticMcCarthy throws the reader an anchor of this sort every few pages, the kind of burdensome existential pronouncement that might weigh a lesser book down and make one long for the good old-fashioned Western equicide of McCarthy’s earlier work ... heavy but pleasurable, and together the books are the richest and strongest work of McCarthy’s career ... Most of the novel is dialogue—if the thunderous omniscient narrator is listening, he’s not interested—and by turns tender, ironic, bitter, and searching ... as a pair, The Passenger and Stella Maris are an achievement greater than Blood Meridian, his best earlier work, or The Road, his best recent one. In the new novels, McCarthy again sets bravery and ingenuity loose amid inhumanity ...These novels feel like McCarthy’s effort to produce such words, and to react to the dying of the light with Sheddan’s vigor rather than Bobby’s and Alicia’s despair. The results are not weakly flickering. They are incandescent with life.
PositiveThe Washington PostWarrick maintains a sense of proportion ... Overwhelmingly, Warrick’s emphasis is where it should be, on Assad, for whom chemical weapons were a highly developed and strategic program of terror ... Toxic-waste disposal is not, on its surface, the most promising subject matter for a nonfiction thriller, but Warrick presents it sharply and compellingly.
RaveThe AtlanticPadnos’s memoir, Blindfold: A Memoir of Capture, Torture, and Enlightenment, is particularly grueling because its author courted risk so nonchalantly ... What ensues is gory and disturbing, conveyed in prose that is simple, thoughtful, and unpretentious ... The sadness of this book is indescribable, even at the end, when [Padnos\'] conditions improved and al-Qaeda groomed him for release ... It has taken six years to produce this memoir—longer than the gestation of any of the other hostage memoirs—and the care shows. It is the best of the genre, profound, poetic, and sorrowful.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalMr. Hammer’s story is part true crime, part nature writing. The criminals are all the more intriguing for being nonviolent, the types motivated by obsession rather than greed ... As a work of natural history, The Falcon Thief is only slightly less satisfying ... Mr. Hammer fails in only one respect: He never penetrates the criminal side of Persian Gulf falconry ... After reading this book, one feels sympathy for both the falcon and bustard, and none at all for egg poachers...or the falconers who keep them in business.
PositiveThe Washington Post... an ambitious retelling of the past four decades in the greater Middle East ... The choice of these two events is not especially daring. That they happened in the same year and are religiously symmetrical has attracted the attention of many observers before, although Ghattas’s insistence on the pivotal, rather than merely symbolic, importance of these events is more emphatic than most. She connects them to episode after episode in the region’s history, which she revisits at great speed, ranging across borders like a writer trying to collect passport stamps. The most vivid accounts, curiously, are from the seminal twin events themselves — the Grand Mosque seizure and the Iranian revolution — and not from the more recent past ... Most of this history is well-known, and almost every chapter’s historical episode already has multiple books in English written about it. But Ghattas’s contribution, as an aggregator of these accounts (she does original interviews, but most of the narrative comes from secondary sources), is to situate Sunni and Shiite politics as forces that both oppose and learn from each other.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalThe niche for this book, beyond readers who love gritty tales from the sea, is a peculiar one. It is not a work of social-justice warfare, although it is hard to read without pangs of sympathy for the enslaved fishermen and pangs of guilt for that cheap can of tuna. Nor is it a work of adventure ... The most valuable contribution of The Outlaw Ocean may be to the literature, unfortunately quite extensive by now, of pessimism about human nature. Mr. Urbina is too factual a reporter to dwell on this point—indeed, he makes halfhearted gestures at sentimentality about life at sea—but in aggregate his stories reveal that something like a Hobbesian state of nature still exists and is available to anyone willing to float a few dozen miles offshore.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalNine Lives should dispel doubts about the essential truth of his tale. Detailed and weird, it contains enough verifiable fact, and enough idiosyncrasy, to establish as his co-authors Tim Lister and Paul Cruickshank write, that \'there simply wasn’t another informant inside al-Qaeda like him\' ... a major contribution to the literature of espionage, and a rare book to say something original about contemporary jihadism ... On this last point Mr. Dean is frustratingly opaque. Even as a reader grateful for his service against al Qaeda, I find the nonchalance of his perfidy alarming, even chilling ... from a writer one wants a few more moments of reflection.
RaveThe Washington Post\"Coll himself is, in the venerable tradition of newspaper reporting, absent from the narrative, although his harsh judgment of U.S. policymakers is pervasive. Absolutely nothing works ... Directorate S is one of the most unrelentingly bleak assessments of U.S. policy of recent years, and it shows, regrettably, that American errors have accumulated beyond recovery ... This companion volume is also definitive, if different in effect. Ghost Wars struck a tragic tone, with a disastrous conclusion known to the reader. The conclusion of the policy blunders chronicled in Directorate S is not known. But because the errors so often look, in retrospect, unforced, they are just as painful to contemplate, and they should induce shudders as we consider the conclusion to which we might be hurtling this time.\