MixedNew York MagazineOften fascinating and, like much of Klein’s previous writing, not without neat coinages and pithy, memorable formulae ... Klein’s book suffers from the fact that there is already such an intense and compelling library of doppelgänger film and literature against which to compare ... Although much of it is compelling, it does suffer from a kind of airport-book schematism, a habit of fitting too many phenomena too neatly into its titular conceptual framework.
RaveThe New RepublicAn extraordinary task ... Hodes calls the book a \'personal history\' rather than a memoir, and that is apt. If memoir brings the devices of fiction to the task of autobiography, then Hodes has brought the instruments and procedures of historical biography to her own personal narrative ... There are things that the writing of history cannot capture, and even the details that we forget can wound us in ways we carry long after they occurred. The historian’s task is not just to record contemporaneous accounts, impressions, and reactions—less yet to casually reify them—but also sometimes to correct them, and to apply to the painful past an intellectual and moral rigor that the shocks of the present do not always or necessarily allow.
PanThe New RepublicThe most intriguing thing about Central Park West—in a way, the real mystery here—is the strange sense that there is something missing. For all his power and access, all those decades of crimes and secrets, Comey has produced any other middle-aged lawyer’s clunky but passable fling at that courtroom novel he always threatened to write. It raises an almost depressing question: Does Comey—do any of these politicos turned authors—have anything to reveal at all? ... To describe the prose as workmanlike would be too kind. It is often lurching and awkward, and the dialogue frequently reads like someone ran the original English through a machine translator into a foreign language and back again ... Location descriptions are painful, like notes that a more fluent writer would plug in fully intending to come back to on a second draft ... But there is still something to like here. Within reason. For all its clichés, it is a work of genuine imagination. It is plotted with reasonable care ... How deflating, then, to discover that the most these semiretired potentates of the great secret machinery of government can imagine amounts to a rip-off of more professionally written TV shows and mid-tier Hollywood action properties.
PositiveThe New RepublicA brisk—often too brisk—combination of professional memoir and essay in media criticism that juxtaposes Sullivan’s journalistic autobiography with expanded thoughts on some of the most central themes and topics of her media columns ... But the very qualities that made Sullivan such a rare success in the field of media journalism...pose challenges to the type of book that she has written in Newsroom Confidential. Sullivan has a kind of professional reticence, a hesitancy about centering herself in either narrative or analysis, that probably is a good quality in a reporter, but which renders an autobiographical narrative opaque ... Moments of pathos, absurdity, humor, and triumph break through on occasion ... It’s hard to avoid concluding that in these lacunae, something essential was lost, something that might explain how and why Margaret Sullivan became Margaret Sullivan ... One...senses a hesitance to burn certain bridges, and I couldn’t put down the suspicion that some punches were pulled ... Yet if sometimes frustrating, Newsroom Confidential is never boring; I blew through my first reading in a single sitting. It is a well-organized digest of Sullivan’s last decade or so as a critic of the news media.
Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague
MixedThe New Republic... a useful—if somewhat limited—document ... The book performs a service in gathering the many significant events and players in the various efforts to undo Donald Trump’s 2020 loss into a single volume. If its attempts to craft a coherent narrative mostly fail, that is because there isn’t one to tell. Nevertheless, The Steal is a useful diagnostic tool. It cannot tell us precisely what happened in the attempt to overturn the 2020 election, but it presents several fascinating portraits of some individuals who joined the attempts, and, though the reasons are not always satisfying, reports why they did ... Surprisingly, the authors largely omit January 6 itself from their narrative, a decision that is confusing and a bit bizarre. The book is written in the cinematic, crosscutting style of an airport thriller and the absence of the actual, attempted insurrection leaves a strange lacuna ... has a thriller’s deliberately propulsive quality, a sense that several simultaneous narrative strands will eventually, surely, converge in a climactic action sequence. Yet the climax never materializes ... These characters, the small individuals who found themselves swept up by a mass political movement, often for the first time in their lives, form the heart of this book. I would have gladly read hundreds more pages of interviews with them over slogging my way through another retelling of the farcical machinations of Giuliani and Sidney Powell ... There is an unfortunate tendency in this book, and in liberal commentary in general, to overstate the uniqueness of the partisan contestation of election results in this country today.
PanThe New RepublicWhy one billion? The author is surprisingly hazy on this point ... Yglesias has neither the visionary scope nor the technical expertise to make any of this remotely plausible as a sustained argument ... He has no theory of political power or change, no idea how any of this will come to pass ... Yglesias is an enthusiastic opinion-haver, but he is no autodidact: He lacks interest in the particularities and provenance of ideas that often obsess the self-taught ... this lack of interest in either real ideas or practical details means that even when Yglesias is sorta right, he is often yawningly, astonishingly wrong.
P. E Moskowitz
PositiveThe New RepublicThe reportage is more engrossing than the history, which can occasionally shade into a kind of term-paper gloss on complex events and politics ... This hurried campus history is a disappointment, because unlike most of the mainstream press, Moskowitz treats the concerns of students and young people seriously. Their approach is a refreshing contrast with well-heeled newspaper columnists and magazine opinion writers, who have found it easy to characterize college students as privileged, fragile \'snowflakes\' unable to cope with the hurly-burly of rigorous, free-wheeling debate ... The Case Against Free Speech is a sometimes flawed but necessary book, one that I hope people will read and argue with, and one that I hope spawns both some more rigorous histories of political conceptions of speech as well as some more pointed polemics aiming at the sacrosanctity of the First Amendment, which could stand to be a site of contestation rather than blindly awed reverence.
PanThe New RepublicThe book, whose subtitle is The Quest for a Moral Life, combines Brooks’s patented brand of quick-sketch pop sociology with a heartfelt but paper-thin and incomplete religious conversion narrative ... he wishes our society...would consider more deeply the communal ethos of Christianity ... He does not, of course, want a more communal society. You will find no suggestion here that capitalism, the ubiquitous ordering economic and social system of our entire civilization, produces consumerist individualism ... The Second Mountain loves examples, but it eschews specifics. In a late section on community building, for example, it races through a litany of community groups and non-profits, to zero cumulative effect ... For a book that so confidently outlines a hike toward happiness, it is notably hard to follow. The book’s tone alternates, sometimes within a single paragraph, between the citation-heavy pop psychology of a TED talk and the aw-shucks wisdom of a homily at a prosperous stone church in a D.C. suburb. Meanwhile, the concepts Brooks leans on most heavily are both elusive and parsed within an inch of their lives ... The Second Mountain reads as if it’s an early draft that was inexplicably rushed to print. It has the inchoate quality of an idea that’s still gestating.
RaveThe Pittsburgh Post-GazetteThe Argonauts is an exemplary, uncomfortable and lovely book, and it’s a book that actually merits the utter cliché: It really makes you think. Ms. Nelson is a funny, needy, prickly, erudite and charming character. She gets angry and makes you angry, but more often you’ll find yourself laughing with both delighted and rueful recognition of the messy lives she takes such evident pleasure in living and living with.