RaveThe New York Times[This book] stands out as perhaps the most ambitious attempt yet to tell the dark story of Rwanda and the region’s deeply intertwined tragedies for a general audience. Wrong’s account unfolds on two separate planes. The first is an efficient history of the region. Most readers know little about East Central Africa’s past other than the Rwandan genocide, whose intensity and scale, Wrong notes, rank it among the greatest horrors of the 20th century. But as she makes abundantly clear, that tragedy was but one piece in an interlocking puzzle of ethnic atrocities and military gambits in the region ... The second strand of Do Not Disturb is a mixture of Wrong’s highly personal remembrance of the former Rwanda spy chief, Patrick Karegeya, and her dogged investigative reporting on a variety of apparently Rwandan state-sponsored hit jobs, foremost among them Karegeya’s murder in South Africa, where he was first drugged and then garroted ... There is a taut, cinematic quality to Wrong’s account of Karegeya’s killing, and a mournful, hurt tone as well — mournful because Karegeya, a skilled, seductive handler of Western reporters, had been a key source for Wrong while he was in government. The hurt that infuses her story is more subtle, but ultimately more important. It derives from her acknowledgment that she and so many other reporters who covered East Central Africa after the 1994 genocide allowed themselves to be manipulated too easily and too long by their Rwandan sources.
Elliot Ackerman and James Admiral Stavridis
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalSuffice it to say that there is conflict and catastrophe on a large scale, and it unfolds, as major conflicts tend to, with surprising twists and turns ... The strengths of the novel are anything but incidental to the background of one of its authors, Adm. Stavridis, a former destroyer and carrier strike group commander who retired from the Navy in 2013 as NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. He and Mr. Ackerman have written what in many ways is a traditional potboiler, one that proceeds with the swiftness and lack of deep character development that marks much airport fiction. But Adm. Stavridis not only understands how naval fleets work; he has clearly given a great deal of thought to America’s biggest strategic risks, and at the top of the list is war with China, which, as this book seems designed to point out, could occur quite by accident and at almost any time.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Hvistendahl deftly turns this material into a compelling whodunit ...What this captivating and well-researched book doesn’t do is to say very much about what America’s best course would be in the face of what is clearly a state-driven effort by China to vacuum up as much technology and know-how from the U.S. as it can. Perhaps that is asking too much. As Ms. Hvistendahl makes clear, China doesn’t solely rely on people of Chinese extraction to collaborate in its catch-up efforts.
PositiveThe New York Review of BooksJulia Lovell provides...a richly detailed and wide-ranging account of the emergence of Maoism and its evolution as a political force ... Paradoxically, as Lovell makes clear, despite such rampant killing, as well as China’s generally woeful economic performance under Mao, this was also the era of the greatest soft power—its ability to influence others through its political ideals or culture—that the country has enjoyed in modern times. What, then, was Maoism? Despite Lovell’s thorough treatment of the Mao period, the answer proves somewhat elusive. This is the result not of a defect in her analysis but of the difficulty of defining the ideology of a charismatic, totalitarian leader driven by frequently shifting whims ... Lovell’s account...is as much a portrait of Mao as of the shapeshifting phenomenon of Maoism[.]
Jean Hatzfeld and Joshua Jordan
PositiveBookforumHatzfeld draws close to his subjects and patiently absorbs their stories in depth. His immersive approach stands in stark contrast to the traditional foreign correspondent’s method, with its necessary compression of detail driven by quick deadlines and an urgent demand for the big picture. Hatzfeld’s project is unusual in other ways, too: He’s returned to this little country over and over, and he continues to visit many of the same small towns and rural communities that were hit hardest by the genocide ... At first, I worried about the risk of repetitiveness as Hatzfeld’s young Rwandan subjects answer the same basic questions ... But over the course of the book, this bland-seeming formula began to reveal unexpected insights—ones that complicate the standard picture of Kagame’s Rwanda ... He’s managed to linger in small towns and villages and record intimate conversations, not just about the genocide, but also about the nominally forbidden topic of ethnicity—Hutu and Tutsi. But there’s something missing from the moving stories that Hatzfeld has gathered, though only readers who are specialists on the region are likely to notice ... nowhere in these accounts is there mention of the campaign of extermination carried out in Zaire (later renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo) by Kagame’s Tutsi government ... These stark facts make the wisdom of many of Blood Papa’s subjects even more poignant[.]
Nelson Mandela, Ed. by Sahm Venter
PositiveThe New York Review of Books\"Today’s familiar figure, enormously self-controlled, morally towering, and powerfully eloquent—the man who would ultimately drive South Africa’s peaceful transition to full democracy—was largely shaped during his decades of confinement ... This is the picture that emerges with remarkable force from The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela ... The short introduction and brief and discreet editors’ notes that appear sporadically in The Prison Letters of Nelson Mandela are full of background and insights that reveal not only new tactics necessarily adapted to prison but also the emergence of a different kind of leader, at once more deft and more courageous than he had been before. Some of the most remarkable letters concern Mandela’s earliest days of imprisonment, and these make clear that although his full transformation took decades, it began almost immediately.\
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalNearly 30 years later, novelist Vaddey Ratner, a Cambodian survivor of her country's descent into a maelstrom of self-destruction, has taken a markedly different approach. For a tale about genocide, In the Shadow of the Banyan is unexpectedly quiet ...instead of a tableau full of slaughter, Ms. Ratner offers an intimate account of the destruction of a single family during the Khmer Rouge's hold on power ...follows the wanderings of the girl and her family as they and other families are driven from one place to another, like cattle, by the revolutionary army ... The novel's fidelity to real life gradually turns out to be a source of weakness. Though rendered in often lovely prose and marked by many emotionally wrenching passages, In the Shadow of the Banyan feels insufficiently imagined, almost like a diary.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal[Ash has] written something braver than his own coming-of-age tale: He’s told us the stories of six Chinese around his age who gravitate to the country’s immense, churning capital, disappearing altogether from the narrative until the book’s final few pages, having delivered an intimate portrait of his subjects ... Mr. Ash is a deft pointillist whose work offers a fresh take on a society the West still struggles to understand.
RaveThe Wall Street Journal...exhaustively researched and vigorously told ... Mr. Pomfret argues that the contemporary U.S.-China relationship towers above all others in terms of global significance. Less predictably, though, he comes just shy of arguing the case for China’s importance to the United States in a much longer-term sense, linking interest in China with the settlement and development of the American West. The author will surprise many readers with the vigor of his case. Subtly but convincingly The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom places American-Chinese relations in the context of a much older story of Western obsession with forging trade routes to China in order to profit from its immense wealth ... If the new leadership in Washington wishes to get a sense of the broad sweep of American history with China, I can think of few better places to start than this book.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalWhat emerges most strongly from the book is a deepened sense of the elite politics of the period, as the higher reaches of the Communist Party, senior military commanders and even provincial leaders were kept guessing about their obscurantist leader’s ever-changing whims, which Mao expressed with abstruse aphorisms and pseudo-Marxist gibberish ... Mr. Dikötter’s greatest contribution with The Cultural Revolution, which is the third in a trilogy on China during the Mao era, is his undermining of the conventional view of the period following Mao’s death in 1976.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Ziegler, the Asia editor of the Economist, writes beautifully, and with the fervor of a naturalist...