MixedThe Washington PostWhile Shorto is successful at finding out what his grandfather did—as well as the affairs he had, the people he swindled, the drinking problem that tanked his illicit career—he struggles to learn more about just who his grandfather was ... There are long talks with relatives, with men who knew his grandfather from his gangster days, with retired police officers and others, but no one can offer a penetrating look at the man who once was second-in-command of a criminal operation that controlled an entire city ... At times, the flatness of his grandfather’s character dampens the narrative. Why, a reader can justifiably ask, do I care about this person? The answer, unfortunately, is never fully apparent. A history of a gangster in a bygone time promises to be riveting, but there’s not enough there there to make this a book you can’t put down. The specter of an unsolved mob murder hangs over the story, hinting at a much deeper, darker tale. That too proves to be a promise that doesn’t quite deliver. What does pay off is a series of revelations that unfold in the book’s final third, where Shorto focuses less on his grandfather and more on his father and their own strained relationship, and all that brought it about. Here the memoir becomes more personal and poignant, and less of a historical account weighted down by asides about process and efforts to corroborate stories. As the hurts are revealed, they offer unexpected insights that traverse generations.
Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch
RaveThe Washington Post... remarkable and often riveting ... Drawing from contemporaneous accounts and biographies of the central characters, Meltzer and Mensch use Lincoln’s two-week journey by train from his home in Illinois to his under-cover-of-darkness arrival in Washington as a gripping narrative to revisit the discovery of the assassination plot and the frantic efforts to prevent its success ... In their briskly paced telling — each of the book’s 81 chapters is just a few pages long — the authors provide a robust historical framework.
Byron L. Dorgan
PositiveThe Washington PostIf the book is a reminder of all our nation’s misdeeds against the country’s original inhabitants, it is also a call to action. In each chapter, Dorgan presents a problem faced by Native Americans that seems intractable and then offers examples of individuals or tribes that have succeeded despite the enormous challenges. The statistics in some cases are breathtakingly daunting ... Those depressing numbers, affecting every aspect of Indian life, can feel overwhelming. Dorgan does his best to alleviate despair by telling readers about the many Indian men, women and children who are working to address them.
RaveThe Washington Post...a 508-page offering that, like his four-hour concerts, delivers enough punch and laughter, sorrow and succor, to satisfy your soul and still, somehow, leave you wanting more ... Throughout the book, Springsteen brings moments such as these to life with memories that put you in the room, whether it’s a whispered aside from Bob Dylan at the Kennedy Center Honors, arguments with record company executives over what to do with an album, or a rare guitar-throwing tantrum directed at his friend and longtime manager Jon Landau ... these chapters reveal many new sides, not all flattering, of a person who has been telling his story for nearly a half century.