RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewMarton carefully traces Merkel’s journey from the hinterlands of East Germany to the center of power in Berlin. A fluent writer, Marton seeks to unravel the Merkel mystery by penetrating the cordon sanitaire that she has erected around her personal life ... a masterpiece of discernment and insight ... For all her admiration of Merkel’s prodigious talents, Marton has not composed a valentine ... For anyone seeking a guide to Merkel’s improbable odyssey, this book is it.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewDraper carefully examines the Bush administration’s illusions about Iraq ... Draper has performed prodigious research, including conducting interviews with several hundred former national security officials and scrutinizing recently declassified government documents. He does not provide any bold revelations, but offers the most comprehensive account of the administration’s road to war, underscoring that Bush was indeed The Decider when it came to Iraq — there was never any debate about not overthrowing Hussein ... Some of Draper’s most revealing passages focus on the intense pressure that Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, as well as the Defense Department official Douglas J. Feith, exerted on the intelligence agencies to buttress and even concoct the case that Saddam had intimate ties with Al Qaeda and that he possessed weapons of mass destruction ... If Draper expertly dissects the ferocious turf battles that took place within the administration over the war, he does not really seek to set it in a wider context other than to note rather benignly that \'the story I aim to tell is very much a human narrative of patriotic men and women who, in the wake of a nightmare, pursued that most elusive of dreams: finding peace through war.\' But there was more to it than that ... Draper provides a timely reminder of the dangers of embarking upon wars that can imperil America itself.
Stephen M. Walt
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewWalt’s book offers a valuable contribution to the mounting debate about America’s purpose. But his diagnosis of America’s debilities is more persuasive than his prescriptions to remedy them ... Walt’s own zest for intellectual combat, though, can lead him into rhetorical overkill ... He also focuses excessively on several rather obscure academic projects that he believes epitomize the sterile moribundity of American strategic thought. It would have been more illuminating had he zeroed in on those few organizations that really do exercise outsize influence in Trump’s Washington, like the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which is helping to shape Iran policy. Walt persuasively contends that Washington’s bungled interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya helped propel Trump, who has consistently derided foreign policy experts, to the presidency ... Walt also makes the easy assumption that America can remain a pre-eminent power, but the mounting national debt and Trump’s steady conversion of the country into what amounts to a rogue state could lead to a very different outcome.