MixedThe Washington PostTaraborrelli admiringly illustrates how each woman evolved from tolerating to relishing the spotlight they shared with their husbands, blossoming publicly despite their private challenges. But though this book is chock full of interviews, archival research and gossipy material about the Bush women, there’s little indication of how, or even if, their time in Washington and the monumental events they witnessed shifted their outlook on the world and on the nation they served. Nor do we get much sense that these women recognized the extreme privilege they were granted by merely marrying into the right family ... Where Taraborrelli excels is in excavating the personal histories of the three women and how they were forever shadowed by painful episodes in their lives ... But there’s no exploration or analysis of how these events affected their personal politics and views of America and the world—what they learned, what they felt. And Taraborrelli doesn’t seem interested in finding out ... They created a singular, admirable legacy, and this book portrays them as genuine, struggling human beings. It says a lot. I wish it said more.
RaveThe Washington PostJonathan Sacks’s latest, and last, book, Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times, is an ethical will of sorts, in the form of a comprehensive, erudite survey of moral philosophy and a plea for a renewed commitment to a communal moral code ... Sacks’s command of the historical sweep of intellectual thought is breathtaking ... One can only wish that Sacks’s brilliant, urgent \'ethical will\' can transcend his grandchildren and inspire all who fervently hope to emerge from this difficult time with an enhanced sense of human solidarity, responsibility, morality and love.
MixedThe Washington PostIn March 2019, the New Yorker published a scathing story by Jane Mayer detailing the deepening connections between President Trump and Fox News, the most-watched cable news network...Hoax covers much the same ground and offers much the same argument, but in a catty, chatty tone that makes for an easy read, though a less substantive one ... the point of view is alarmist ... For a book that purports to document how a dereliction of journalistic duty can cost lives and damage institutions, Hoax too often relies on assertions, blind quotes and unverified accounts. In several instances, Stelter quotes an unnamed source making an accusation that ought to have been fact-checked or simply omitted. It would have strengthened his important argument, especially given his open feuds with Ailes (until he died in 2017) and Hannity ... I doubt Hoax will convince die-hard Fox fans of the error of their ways, but it should reach those unaware of the network’s dangerous, complicit slide into demagoguery. Stelter’s critique goes beyond salacious tidbits about extramarital affairs (though there are plenty of those) to expose a collusion that threatens the pillars of our democracy.
PositiveWashington PostIt could not have been easy to report and write this book, given the Trumps’ disdain for real journalism, their aversion to transparency and obsession with controlling their images. But Jordan, a political reporter at the Washington Post, has assembled a solid narrative, written without embellishment or much editorial comment, allowing the facts to speak for themselves ...The Melania she presents is sympathetic occasionally, but not always. She is enigmatic, glamorous, secretive, strategic, a quiet loner and master compartmentalizer who made her deal with the devil and made it work because in many ways, deep down, she and Trump are cut from the same shiny cloth ... It took more than 120 interviews in five countries for this portrait to emerge — and it still leaves much unsaid ... Plenty of celebrities exaggerate and even lie about their past; reinvention is an American trope, after all, and it’s often accompanied by a rewrite of personal history. But as described in this book, Melania repeatedly stretches and even abandons the truth if it’s inconvenient for her, and her alone.
MixedThe Washington Post\"I’m not sure she answers her own question. Perhaps it is unanswerable. But in the process of trying, Paxson introduces us to vivid characters, from the past and present, and uses their stories to probe the deepest recesses of the human condition with candor and true feeling ... Paxson’s search to learn more about Daniel Trocmé drives the book’s narrative with such passion that it sometimes clouds her analysis of what motivated him to sacrifice on behalf of total strangers. Then again, as much as Paxson probes Daniel’s writings and interactions to piece together his life, there remains something indecipherable about his story, and you sense Paxson grieving for him without always knowing why ... she grows so close to some families that she drops all pretense of scholarly objectivity—and those who help them. Her examination of the culture clash that accompanies dislocation and exile is powerfully rendered ... But I never felt that she got to the crux of the matter ... I wish that Paxson had trained her considerable intellect and compassion toward...deeper questions. But perhaps they are, indeed, unanswerable. And in times like ours, perhaps it is enough to elevate these stories as examples and aspirations.
PositiveThe Washington Post... a heartbreaking and timely read ... With a reporter’s eye for narrative and a historian’s attention to detail and context, Dobbs re-creates Jewish life in Kippenheim, a German village near the French border, on the eve of the Nazi onslaught. Then, thanks to a trove of carefully assembled archival material, photographs and oral histories, he follows these Jewish families through harrowing cycles of deportation and desperation as they attempt to flee to safety ... There are times when Dobbs’s precise recounting of the byzantine immigration process becomes tedious — but, of course, that was the point ... It’s not possible to read The Unwanted without hearing its echoes today.
Steven R. Weisman
RaveWashington Post...well-documented and compelling ... As much as I admire this book, I’ll say this: I didn’t understand Weisman’s title ... While the deep-seated arguments coursing through his narrative did once result in violence (see below), what he describes is more of a raucous, disputatious evolution than an all-out battle among Jews ... a series of visionary, courageous, often problematic and egotistical men propel Weisman’s story ... a story that is both sobering and inspirational. This history reminds us that we Jews are not a settled people and that we have turned our deep arguments about core precepts and values into a capacity for reinvention, which continues to find fertile soil in America.
PositiveThe Washington PostIn this, Weisman resembles many contemporary American Jews, who have been able to comfortably coast to social acceptance and professional accomplishment by wearing their Judaism as lightly as they want, with ethnic pride, little sacrifice, occasional embarrassment and a heavy dose of political liberalism ... He resorts to broad criticism and unsupported assertions about American Jewish life that sidestep a more complex reality ... American Jews face an enormous challenge in overcoming our civic complacency and internal fractiousness, and Weisman’s searing study of the rise of the alt-right reminds us that our privileged role in this society can never be taken for granted. I only wish that his passionate call to arms was based on a deeper understanding of what actually is being done by Jews in the age of Trump, especially because there is still so much more left to do.