PositiveThe Washington Post... exquisitely timed. A well-paced and engagingly written narrative, The Divider shows off the best of big-resource journalism in the Trump era. Yet it also makes vivid some of the shortcomings of the industry that Trump repeatedly exploited ... A new Trump book is worth reading only if its argument or its revelations break new ground. The thesis of Baker and Glasser’s book is unoriginal, if accurate: Trump posed a unique threat to American democracy ... is, in many ways, a marker of how much journalism has adapted. It displays some of the old instincts: Notwithstanding its more than 650 pages of text, it has little to say about the policies pursued by Trump and his fellow Republicans, or about the political organizations that backed or battled his party or lobbied Washington during his presidency (the National Rifle Association, for example, is not mentioned once). Many anecdotes and backstories seem to be there only because Baker and Glasser know them. Still, the book is the most comprehensive and detailed account of the Trump presidency yet published, and it would not have been possible, as Baker and Glasser write in their acknowledgments, without the diligence and fortitude of their colleagues in the press corps \'who worked to cover the Trump administration while being denigrated as ‘enemies of the people\' ... To this rich factual context, Baker and Glasser add fresh and frequently alarming stories, based in part on more than 300 interviews they conducted. If their argument treads familiar Trump-book ground, The Divider delivers new revelations aplenty. The biggest of the scoops provide vivid new details about Trump’s ever more dictatorial behavior ... suggests that journalism needs to have a serious conversation about its role and responsibilities in today’s fraught politics. In this all-hands-on-deck moment, we need journalists focused on the horizon and shouting quickly and clearly about icebergs ahead.
Barbara F. Walter
RaveThe Washington Post... a rigorous yet readable analysis of the prospects for a second American civil war ... the civil-conflict equivalent of How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt — a much-needed warning that uses cross-national research to examine the United States. Given how prescient Levitsky and Ziblatt were, and how expert Walters is (she is a leading scholar of civil wars), it is a warning to heed ... I’ve been skeptical of the notion that the United States is on the verge of another civil war. Walter has made me reconsider ... This is a book that everyone in power should read immediately ... Besides delivering an up-to-date view of civil wars, Walter provides a state-of-the-art accounting of why they begin ... Walter has answers, lots of them.
Mark Bowden and Matthew Teague
PositiveThe Washington Post... a gripping ground-level narrative ... a marvel of reporting: tightly wound, as you might expect from Bowden...but also panoramic—a kaleidoscope of stories about how officials and activists in pivotal states like Arizona and Georgia responded to Trump’s false claims of election fraud. To Bowden and Teague’s credit, they give zero credence to these claims. Yet they provide sincere, if not sympathetic, insight into the thinking of those who believe them and how they acted on those beliefs ... The result is a narrative that mirrors the way elections are actually run in the United States: state by state, county by county, precinct by precinct. Rather than focus on the president’s wild claims and increasingly comical legal challenges, The Steal centers on the people doing the decentralized work of American elections: manning polling stations, counting ballots, certifying results, considering legal challenges and overseeing all these activities on behalf of the parties ... The internal monologues of disillusioned citizens like Stenstrom and Hoopes are what make The Steal so readable and revealing. They are also a little frustrating. It’s never entirely clear if you are hearing their voices or Bowden and Teague’s. I don’t expect everyone to share my footnote fetish, but I did crave greater clarity about when I was reading a more or less verbatim recounting of interviews as opposed to a journalistic reconstruction ... Far more important, Bowden and Teague say nothing about how the overwrought suspicions, patent misbeliefs, and elaborate but false theories articulated by these radicalized voters might be effectively countered. Here is where the limits of the journalistic approach loom large—and the need for a deeper diagnosis becomes apparent.
RaveThe Washington PostThe tradition of foreign thinkers commenting on American democracy is long and distinguished ... To this venerable genre, Nick Bryant adds an un-Trollopian modern sensibility and a great deal of journalistic flair. A longtime BBC correspondent, the British-born Bryant has covered the United States from the United States for much of his distinguished career. In When America Stopped Being Great, he offers what the book’s subtitle calls \'a history of the present.\' But it’s really an elegy for a nation that Bryant first came to know as a young man on an extended visit to Orange County, Calif., amid native-son Ronald Reagan’s \'morning in America\' campaign and the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics ... If Bryant is echoing foreign laments, he nonetheless gives them a fresh arc. Drawing from his crammed reporters’ notebook and crumbling love affair with his adopted country, he tells a story familiar to anyone who’s cared too much about someone intent on self-destruction. In Bryant’s dark but deftly told tale, the United States is in the final stages of a precipitous, ongoing and likely irreversible decline.
PositiveThe Washington Post...an essential exposé of the first two years of the Trump administration written by the veteran journalist Alexander Nazaryan. Other books have provided richer detail or surveyed a broader panorama, but this is the first to fully capture just how dysfunctional — and destructive — Trump’s executive branch has turned out to be ... Most of these tragicomedies are well known. Yet, by tracing their common threads, Nazaryan drives home the sheer breadth of the damage they’ve inflicted. In his telling, the outrageous behavior was just the surface manifestation of a deeper contempt for government and those whom government is meant to serve ... Nazaryan captures the cluelessness and corruption well; he is less strong on the radicalism behind it all.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewAs Rosenthal describes American health care, it’s not really a market; it’s more like a protection racket — tolerated only because so many different institutions are chipping in to cover the extortionary bill and because, ultimately, it’s our lives that are on the line ... Rosenthal’s book doesn’t conclude with conglomerates. She also provides an eye-opening discussion of skyrocketing drug prices, as well as the less-familiar pathologies of excessive medical testing and overpriced medical devices ... She also weaves in moving tales of those who are paying dearly for that enhanced bottom line — which, in the end, includes all of us. Where Rosenthal’s account falls short is in explaining why this deeply broken system persists ... Without a clear view of the political economy of health care, it’s easy to see the problem as Justice Scalia did. If we could just start treating health care like broccoli, the market would solve the problem. But as Rosenthal’s important book makes clear, the health care market really is different.