MixedThe Washington Post... a very entertaining book. It is sordid and foul-mouthed, darkly funny, appropriately excoriating of its main subject, and entirely addictive, and in that sense, it is a very good book ... What Wolff doesn’t want to grasp...is how this kind of isn’t-it-hilarious politics-as-entertainment media coverage of Trump is what led to Trump’s shocking rise in the first place; it’s what keeps him powerful and relevant and may enable his comeback. In that sense, this is a troubling, lackadaisical book written by a man who breezily shirks his most basic professional and moral obligations ... [Trumpism is] a sad and dark story, and even though we’re still in the middle of it, lots of people have gotten bored or simply exhausted. The Wolff version, with its cast of imbeciles and incompetents and adult babies who could have been pulled from an HBO writer’s room, is a far sunnier read, insofar as its big takeaway is: It was an even crazier ride than you thought, but the wheels of democracy stayed on. One worries, though, that Wolff has turned his back to the road and doesn’t see that we’re still hurtling toward a cliff.
PositiveThe Washington PostInstead of offering an intimate look at Pelosi’s true self or even her motivations, Page approaches the speaker as a study in power. The result is a biography that doesn’t plumb the depths of Pelosi’s soul but does fully reckon with her as a history-changing force — it’s a kind of Great Woman biography in the style usually reserved for great men ... Page delves into the issues of gender and sexism with depth and nuance, illustrating how social norms for women, and Pelosi’s alternate embrace and then defiance of them, shaped her rise ... The ins and outs of Pelosi’s early life and biggest professional victories are laid out in painstaking and at times superfluous and repetitive detail, although in the case of the Affordable Care Act, the play-by-play is a useful primer in how Pelosi wields her power and how little she crows about it ... Ultimately, Page doesn’t quite break into Pelosi’s inner world, and she doesn’t quite get into what, exactly, about Pelosi inspires such vitriol on the right and the far left alike. But in many ways, the focus on external professional displays makes for a more honest and interesting read than any attempt at biography-as-psychodrama ... A reader won’t walk away from this biography feeling intimately acquainted with Nancy Pelosi. But they will put it down with a much deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, the work it takes for a woman to harness, maintain and wield authority that was once reserved exclusively for men.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewThere are few women in the world who generate as much animosity, and as many accusations of hypocrisy, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali. She denounces Islam for its absolutism and intolerance, and then vilifies the religion of more than one billion people as a \'nihilistic cult of death.\' Her own history perhaps makes her antagonism understandable — she was forced into genital mutilation as a child in Somalia, fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage and, as an adult, has seen her life threatened by Muslim extremists so many times and with such credibility that she travels with security. But she herself rejects that framing as sexist and presumptuous ... Her latest project only amplifies these incongruities ... But this is the one-two punch of Prey : Swear allegiance to Western liberalism, then push ideas and policies that would undermine it. It’s a dizzying rhetorical style, and succeeds only in knocking out straw men ... If readers didn’t know any better, they would come away with the impression that most sex crimes in Western Europe are committed by Muslim migrants against European female strangers. They aren’t — the men who pose the biggest threat to European women are the same category of men who pose the biggest threat to women everywhere: men whom women know ... This knee-jerk oversimplification is particularly frustrating coming, as it does, from a steely woman of great intelligence ... Even a reader like myself — a reader who delights in a little happy blasphemy, yearns for greater secularism and unapologetic atheism, and welcomes the skewering of misogynist fundamentalists of any religion (taboos and tolerance be damned) — couldn’t find much to cheer here. Like the fundamentalist religious views she and I both detest, Prey is too absolutist to be credible ... It’s Hirsi Ali, though, who does exactly this: She finds stories of individual Muslim immigrants who commit heinous crimes, and by suggesting those stories are broadly representative, uses them to justify curtailing the opportunities afforded to the whole group. This is not, as she suggests, a feminism of standing up for the rights of women. It is a feminism of reaction — and one that would undermine the very liberal values Hirsi Ali begs feminists to protect.
RaveThe Washington PostThere is plenty in their reporting that is alternately heartbreaking and rage-inducing ... doesn’t seek clear answers so much as attempt to write the first iteration of this particular historical record ... Living in the minutiae, and maintaining that focus on narrating events rather than opining on or analyzing them, makes this book a remarkable work of slowed-down journalism ... the power in this book is the authors’ effort to use their journalistic tools to set the foundation for the reader to consider these bigger, broader questions. The authors try to wrap it up in a way that feels narrow and humble, not straying too far out of their professional lane. They are doing their jobs as journalists and writing the first draft of history. It is up to you, the book suggests, to get to work on the revision.
RaveThe Washington Post\"Parkland by Dave Cullen is one of the most uplifting books you will read all year ... At a time of such national exhaustion, a book about a school shooting may not be the one you’re inclined to pick up off the shelf. Do it anyway. Parkland is a balm ... For a politics-hardened reader, stories of earnest activism and kids changing the world are boring at best, insultingly cliche at worst. Cullen deftly navigates what could have easily been a sentimental and patronizing story (not to mention a tedious one) ... Cullen does not bore us with banalities or mawkishness. He manages to use the word \'resilience\' only once ... But the real genius of Parkland isn’t that it’s an inspirational tome. Instead, it’s practically a how-to guide for grass-roots activism ... Cullen is an adept storyteller, synthesizing a cacophony of voices and using his own simply to carry a reader cleanly through ... Parkland is a story touched by trauma, but it is not a story of trauma. It is a story born of violence, but it is not a story of violence. Instead, it is something both braver and more precise: It is the story of a carefully planned rebellion.\
PositiveThe Washington PostReading Daniels’s book, I found myself alternately appreciating her crass and self-aware humor, and cringing at her shameless self-aggrandizement. It struck me, repeatedly, that she’s a bit like the female flipside of Trump: fixated on her greatness, unabashedly bragging about her achievements and a touch vain ... She is vulgar and candid in the way lovably brassy women always are, sharing the farcical and just-too-much, from descriptions of Trump’s genitals and personal grooming habits to an aside about shaving a part of her husband’s body that is unprintable in a family newspaper ... Her book is not exactly a gripping read or a remarkable piece of literature, but it’s blunt, funny and authentic...When you read her story, you believe her.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
PositiveTIMEWhat Happened is in some ways a jarring read in the age of Trump. Clinton is introspective without narcissism, arch without being cruel. She can’t resist, even here, touching on her vision for the United States had she won, and her smartest-girl-in-the-class persona shines through... Clinton is deeply self-critical, churning over her own small decisions and larger errors ... But what takes What Happened from political memoir and into future historical document is Clinton’s clear-eyed assessment of the backdrop of gender and racial hostility that animated this election ... This is not a book that will please everyone – least of all those who think the best path Clinton could take would lead to an isolated cave somewhere she could live out the rest of her days in contrite excommunication ...a crucial story to tell nonetheless, and she is the one who should tell it.
PanCosmopolitanMuch of what's wrong with this book, Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success, has been detailed elsewhere: It's ostensibly about 'women who work,' but most women who work won't recognize themselves in a book aimed almost entirely at white-collar employees gunning for the C-suite ... While Trump spends ample time in the book encouraging readers to find their passion, it's obvious that hers is, like her father's, little more than name recognition ...goal of Ivanka feminism is less gender equality and more a cosmetic feel-good feminism of women all happily cheering each other on in surprisingly comfortable pumps ...meaningless corporate speak, a series of evocative words (Empowerment! Authenticity!) thrown together into nonsensical arrangements ... In many ways, Women Who Work reads like what Sheryl Sandberg critics who hadn't actually read Lean In assumed it was.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewThe book, per Kipnis’s style, is polemical and often outrageous ... Though she rightly points out the feminist hypocrisy of casting women as inherently sexually vulnerable, she falls into her own stereotypes of jilted lovers sinking their claws into bumbling, sex-drunk men. She seems to think the feminist directive to explain clear standards of consent (a yes, not just the absence of a no) and to shift male behavior is a pipe dream, but telling women to change their behavior to avoid being sexually assaulted (for example, to quit drinking to excess) is eminently realistic rape prevention ... And yet I loved reading it. Kipnis’s book is maddening; it’s also funny, incisive and often convincing ... Kipnis pushes her argument beyond the realm of what’s reasonable in part, it seems, for professorial aims — to force readers to really consider their position and to see if they can fully defend it, or at least to think beyond feminist platitudes. It is a discomfiting process, and surely many feminists will come away, as I did, deeply disagreeing with her; others will, as I did, nonetheless find her book a persuasive and valuable contribution to the continuing debate over how to deal with sexual assault on college campuses.
PanTIMEFear of Dying is a less radical book than its predecessor, coming at a less radical time. The casual sex that shocked readers more than 40 years ago doesn’t feel scandalous in a more lascivious culture. But Fear of Dying is trailblazing in its own right ... But the book is also the product of a particular sliver of American feminism that is increasingly out of touch with the current movement. Fear of Dying is full of multiple marriages, dogs in sweaters, extra-large diamonds, daddy issues, expensive face-lifts, and brown and black home-care workers who tend to aging parents.