MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewIn the most compelling passages of The People, No, Frank unearths the populists from the rubble piled atop them ... Demagogy may not have been the populists’ \'true\' nature; their heroism, and tragedy, were real. But how, given this history, can one wholly dismiss the kinship between the populists and the followers of Orban and Trump? ... Frank’s purpose here is explicitly polemical: He wants to realign history in order to force us to reimagine the present ... Frank treats identity politics as yet another species of elitism. Who, then, are \'the people\'? ... the gulf between the populists and the antipopulists may not be quite so great as Thomas Frank supposes.
David D Kirkpatrick
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalSuccessful uprisings tend to have two parties—the state and the people. Egypt, to its great misfortune, had at least four: the state, the liberal opposition, the Islamists and powerful outsiders, above all the U.S. and the Persian Gulf countries. Each seems to have taken a turn slamming the doors shut just as the light of democracy began to shine through. It’s no secret that Egypt’s permanent state apparatus—its army, police, intelligence service and judiciary—never accepted the legitimacy of the popular movement and actively undermined Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood official who in 2012 won Egypt’s first free presidential election. What Mr. Kirkpatrick captures is the utter contempt among these powerful actors for the idea of popular sovereignty.
Robert D. Kaplan
MixedThe Wall Street JournalIt is a sign of how very unusual a journalist Robert Kaplan is that after more than three decades covering civil wars and collapsing states and American interventions he has emerged not only as an eloquent defender of foreign-policy realism but as a grand strategist to whom the Pentagon turns for a tour d’horizon. Mr. Kaplan is a kind of expeditionary foreign-policy intellectual who does not allow his sympathies to cloud his judgment. He has apologized copiously for his support of the war in Iraq, explaining that as a journalist he got too close to the story. 'Realism' is generally understood as the doctrine stipulating that states do act, and should act, according to their 'interests' rather than their 'values.' Mr. Kaplan is certainly that kind of realist ... Our world seems so ungoverned that we are quick to acknowledge the wisdom of a Hobbesian prophet like Mr. Kaplan. But is he right? ... Directionally, Mr. Kaplan has been right. Yet he was blind to positive surprises, including progress in public health and the resilience of fragile states ... Whether or not one embraces it, tragic realism offers one lesson that Americans, and above all the idealistically inclined, need to learn, and to re-learn: humility.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIn those pieces, Wright found people to talk to — relatives of Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahri — whom others had missed, and wove his research, in the New Yorker way, into a fine tapestry of personal experience and unobtrusive reflection. Whether we need to read them for a second time, however, is another matter ... That said, while the passage of time has rendered some of the pieces old hat, others are edged with retrospective significance.
J. Kael Weston
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe emotional core of The Mirror Test is Weston’s profound love for the Marines, whose stoic warrior culture and bottomless commitment to one another he embraces. This reverence, however, blurs the book’s intellectual outlines, since Weston’s buddies don’t share either his horror of the wars or his commitment to putting politics and diplomacy first.