PositiveNew York TimesSaving Justice is a slight and repetitive book, but not an insignificant one ... Comey is a curious figure. He is smart, admirable, hard-working — and yet slightly smarmy in his rectitude. He begins each chapter with a quote from sources ranging from Virginia Woolf to Malcolm X to the inevitable Dalai Lama. He tries to leaven his supreme pontification with stories of his own flaws, mixed emotions and humility ... His pursuit of transparency is rigorous to the point of myopia ... If nothing else, Comey has laid out the challenge of the next four years. Joe Biden’s quiet humanity will confront a noisy nation where too many citizens have become so sour that they’ve found solace, and entertainment, in an alternative reality. It will not be easy to lure them away from their noxious fantasies, but fact-based truth is not negotiable.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... there aren’t many \'reveals\' ... yet, Trump on Trial doesn’t plod; it is well written and the reporting is panoramic. Its theme insinuates itself gradually ... what Trump on Trial makes clear is that the Republican response was an all-out assault on regular order, expertise, law, diplomacy and the quotidian chores of holding a democracy together. I had forgotten how blatant it was.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt was an act of transcendent masochism, but we should be grateful he did it because What Were We Thinking looks past the obvious and perverse — that is, past Trump himself — to the troublesome questions raised by the elevation of a soulless carnival barker to the nation’s highest office ... crisp, engaging and very smart. Lozada can be lacerating ... Beyond the snark, though, there is a simple, piercing clarity to many of Lozada’s observations ... More often, though, Lozada finds subtleties in areas we’ve assumed clear-cut ... Carlos Lozada is a book critic, not a policy wonk. He doesn’t propose specific solutions to our current state of disgrace, but he does offer a vision of American stability being eviscerated by the public’s need to be entertained.
PanThe Washington Post... exhausting ... the notion of scapegoat sacrifice deserves more thoughtful exploration ... We’ve read most of this before. D’Antonio is a workmanlike compiler of other people’s reporting and insights — he produces a new book every year or so — and his intentions are good. But there is no art to it. Indeed, quite the opposite: The book plods along through Whitewater and Lewinsky and Benghazi and the email non-scandals, and a host of others. There is the familiar cast of twisted characters ... There are occasional revelations — or rediscoveries — along the way ... I suppose there is value in compiling all this vile stuff. There will be first-time voters in 2020 who weren’t even born when Bill Clinton was president, and they should know where the Trumpist wing-nuttery came from. For the rest of us, though, there is a larger question, unasked in this book: In the end, what are we to make of Bill and Hillary Clinton — not just as \'magical\' scapegoats but as public servants ... D’Antonio’s assessment is saintly, although he does allow that she has a temper ... In the end, a true scapegoat sacrifice tells us more about the sins of the society in question than about the goat. The Hunting of Hillary was always more about us than it was about her.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... a dreadful title for a serious book ... Frum’s intellectual journey is what makes this book so fascinating. He can look at our current condition with fresh eyes, earned through humiliating experience. It is a humility to which the rest of us should aspire ... divided into two parts. The first is a brutal takedown of Donald Trump, occasionally to a fault...Frum’s best observations are more subtle ... Frum is on shakier ground when he places Trump internationally, as part of a \'fascoid\' movement — an awkward coinage he uses to indicate a diluted form of fascism — that is based not in nationalism, but in white racial identity \'with a capital in Moscow.\' Well, maybe ... Happily, Frum remains a small-c conservative, not a radical. The solutions he proposes in the second half of Trumpocalypse are bold and provocative, but not wild-eyed ... [Frum] has done something crucial: He has recognized that a new national conversation is coming, and, with Trumpocalypse, he has provided a thoughtful way to start it.
PositiveThe Washington PostBall’s appreciation of Pelosi’s ancient abilities makes this a smart, solid biography with a lesson: Despite our current fixation on political showmanship, politics works best in a complicated democracy like ours when its practitioners can navigate their way through the byzantine cloakrooms of power ... They are small-room, off-camera skills. Ball makes a convincing case that no woman could have made it to the top without them ... She was a brilliant rainmaker, eventually a legendary one; her ability to raise money for fellow House members was a crucial weapon in her rise to the top ... Ball doesn’t spend much time explaining just how she did it, which is a shame: Pelosi isn’t the most transparent of subjects for a biography, and a better sense of how she succeeded in this mysterious realm might have helped to reveal more of who she is ... Pelosi isn’t quite hagiography. Ball admits to admiring the speaker, but she is honest about her deficits [.]
MixedThe Washington Post... devastating ... Rucker and Leonnig provide new details of the president’s astonishing verbal assault and also the crucial context ... superbly reported and written with clarity, but it is not an easy read. It is relentless, depressing and ultimately numbing; sort of like being an American citizen these past four years ... The authors have dislodged new sources who enable them to describe the thoughts and feelings of players like Tillerson, McMaster, Chief of Staff John Kelly, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and others ... Rucker and Leonnig try to be scrupulously fair; they don’t rant; they don’t make judgments or pull back to give a more historic perspective. They leave the most devastating analyses of this presidency to their sources, sometimes in blind quotes provided by Trump staffers, sometimes with questionable effect ... There is another problem with source-driven reporting: Your sourcing may be incomplete. Tillerson, who seems a halting and barely competent leader in accounts based on State Department sources, comes off as decisive and courageous here ... It’s not impossible that this account is accurate...But without Mueller’s side of the story, it is not entirely convincing ... Rucker and Leonnig offer lots of gory details about the president.
Julie Hirschfeld Davis
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... exquisitely reported ... reveals the mercurial unreliability and instability of the president. Davis and Shear perform this contextual service time and again throughout their book, which is essential reading for those searching for the \'beating heart\' of the Trump administration ... Davis and Shear are scrupulously fair reporters. They give Trump’s minions a respectful hearing ... Davis and Shear are at their best describing the chaotic inner processes of the administration. They are less successful when they attempt to describe the effects of the crackdown on actual human beings — or give insight into the perpetrators of the Trump policies. They wait 280 pages to offer a biographical sketch of Miller, which raises more questions than it answers ... Davis and Shear are right: Immigration demagogy is at the \'heart\' of the Trump show — and the Trump show is at the heart of our tragic decline as a civil and humane society.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewBen Rhodes, who served Barack Obama as a foreign policy adviser and speechwriter from beginning to end, has written a book that reflects the president he served — intelligent, amiable, compelling and principled. And there is something more: The World as It Is is a classic coming-of-age story, about the journey from idealism to realism, told with candor and immediacy. It is not a heavy policy book. There are anecdotes galore, but they illuminate rather than scandalize. Even Donald Trump — a politician who seems the omega to Obama’s alpha — is treated with horrified amazement rather than vitriol ... Ben Rhodes is a charming and humble guide through an unprecedented presidency. He writes well, even though he has a master’s degree in creative writing, and he has a good eye ... his achievement is rare for a political memoir: He has written a humane and honorable book.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewAn insider’s account of Clintonia might have been compelling, as the Rich pardon story is, and valuable — as Conason’s account of Clinton’s remarkable work in Africa is. But there are multiple problems here. Conason is too close, he feels the need to defend Clinton from every last negative story written about him and his family ... The book is overstuffed, and too often reads like a presidential memoir ... Many significant questions go unanswered, which is especially frustrating given Conason’s access to all the major players.