PositiveThe Boston GlobeWildland is heavy on context, as Osnos supports his narrative by citing scholars of every stripe ... Wildland is at its best when Osnos offers intimate portraits of the men and women in the three communities on his radar. Even the scoundrels are depicted with sensitivity and empathy ... Wildland is written in first person, which often gives the book a satisfying immediacy ... Sometimes Osnos tries too hard to make the story personal ... Osnos delivers a vivid if dispiriting portrait of West Virginia, where coal companies pollute the water, vulture investors make out like bandits, and workers are abandoned ... Osnos wrote Wildland in real time, meaning he didn’t know how the book was going to end, and my sense is that Osnos is conflicted about his own story. Whatever hope he may have had for an optimistic conclusion is overrun by events.
PositiveThe Washington Post... not a sweeping business narrative. But Ducharme provides a balanced, methodical account of how an addictive new smoking product with unknown health hazards became ubiquitous in American high schools ... While most investigations of cigarette companies have clear villains and heroes, Big Vape presents Juul’s founders as conflicted figures who defy easy moral judgment ... conveys the forces behind a powerful social trend that undercut public health while also offering a case study in how to squander the riches of a rocket-fueled tech company.
PositiveThe Washington PostFrankel is a smooth writer and sure-footed narrator who uses this volume to excavate the cultural landscape of postwar America — the entrenched homophobia, the shameless exploitation of women, the corrosion of our cities. But even good books about great movies have limits. In this case, squeezing more than 300 pages of prose from a 113-minute film does not always come easily ... Frankel is a diligent researcher, and he uncovers the rich details that gave the movie its texture and authenticity ... While Frankel uses Midnight Cowboy to trace broader cultural trends, some digressions are extraneous. There are unnecessary details of the self-absorbed Warhol; of a bomb that detonates in a townhouse next to Hoffman’s Greenwich Village apartment; of Schlesinger’s next movie. Some careless writing also creeps in ... Nonetheless, Frankel’s book will satisfy anyone interested in how a long-shot movie about two underdogs became an American original.
A. J. Baime
PositiveThe Boston Globe... well-paced ... Baime avoids passing judgment on any of the four principal candidates. The approach allows readers to form their own opinions while soaking up the politics of another era — intensely competitive but relatively civil, when television was in its infancy, nominating conventions were high drama, and presidential aspirants relied on long, sweaty train rides through towns and farms, making their case to thousands of voters at dusty whistle stops ... At stake in 1948, according to Baime, was America’s soul, but his account is also a rendering of the deep fissures in American life ... Baime, who has written a previous book on Truman, skillfully leads readers to conclude what he surely had in mind from the outset: In an election, substance matters, as does courage and decency, and Truman displayed them all in 1948.