PositiveSan Francisco Chronicle\"[Abramson\'s] profiles of the four organizations offer rich details of how each found its footing in a treacherous media environment ... Merchants of Truth is a fascinating read, but even an undertaking of this ambition cannot fully capture the tectonic shifts in the news media in the past decade. Only one of the 13 chapters is devoted to the Facebook factor, which revolutionized the consumption of information — in an algorithm-driven system that proved vulnerable to manipulation. By focusing on four prominent organizations, the book gives barely more than passing mention to one of the most insidious trends in media: the swallowing of local journalism by craven chains that are openly peddling political ideology or eviscerating newsrooms for the sake of profits.\
PositiveDatebookRevealing and even endearing in many ways, but also remains true to the senator’s dedication to message discipline. Don’t look here for the types of wild youth tales and soul-baring reflections that made Barack Obama’s Dreams From My Father a best-seller; then again, that was first published 13 years before his presidential candidacy ... The frequent invocation of poster-ready phrases such as \'we must make right the wrongs that this administration has committed in our name\' leaves no doubt that disciplined message of The Truths We Hold is all about the future. As in: 2020. She is running.
PositiveThe San Francisco Chronichle\"It takes a writer of uncommon skill and perception to engage readers in a book about the federal bureaucracy when the nation’s attention is fixated on the president’s tweets, scandals and moves to stack the Supreme Court and delegitimize democratic institutions. Yet Michael Lewis rises to the challenge in his new book, The Fifth Risk ... Lewis moves the focus deeper into the government, to the less startling but more abundant, less obvious and nevertheless consequential ways a White House is charging ahead with willful ignorance. He gives readers plenty to think about — and more to worry about in this unprecedented time.\
MixedThe San Francisco GateThe problem with Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter, and Trump, is that it never quite decides what it wants to be. Yes We Still Can does have its charming moments, especially in showing Obama’s human side amid the pressures of running for president and then ascending to leader of the free world. Pfeiffer recalls his initial meeting with the then-junior senator from Illinois who was contemplating a 2008 run ... It’s not giving away the ending to reveal that Pfeiffer concludes by saying of Obama, I\'am going to miss him. We are going to miss him.\' That point is accentuated in most of the preceding 280 pages, and the many Americans who feel similarly will find nothing in this book to dissuade them.
James B Comey
PositiveThe San Francisco ChronicleIn the predictable cacophony of cable punditry, A Higher Loyalty has been reduced to \'Comey’s revenge\' against a president who has called him a liar, a leaker and “a slime ball” who should be prosecuted. Yet in the context of his life story, often laid out with detail and poignancy and humor, both his self-reflection about his actions and his indignation about a president who operates by a lesser moral code are entirely consistent ... Comey pauses repeatedly to remind readers that he is a fallible human being, and even relays stories that are less than flattering about himself ... A Higher Loyalty leaves no doubt that James Comey is a leader who is willing to resign to do what he perceives as right. His critics will dismiss him as sanctimonious, but he reveals some of the emotional scars that helped build that fortitude ... Comey comes across in the book as introspective, humane and humble — and believable.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleTrumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic, by respected conservative author David Frum, offers a persuasive and detailed account of how Trump is undermining American institutions, including the presidency itself ... Neither is it going to encounter any questions about the thoroughness or methodology of Frum’s reporting. His [Frum's] attributions are meticulous, his footnotes are extensive, his willingness to call out deviations from his conservative brethren is commendable ... Therein lies the power and credibility of Frum’s conclusions. They are supported by verifiable facts, grounded in historical context, devoid of ideological hue ...a must-read for Americans who are in denial about the threat to democracy posed by a president absorbed in narcissism and recklessly indifferent to the institutions and norms of ethics and propriety that have sustained the great American experiment for 2½ centuries ... Frum does not attempt to psychoanalyze Trump, but the author pointedly identifies his shortcomings, especially his one-way view of loyalty.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
PanThe San Francisco ChronicleClinton is hardly alone in her shock, or in the struggle to assess how a man she described as unqualified, immature and even dangerous became leader of the free world, which helps explain why What Happened shot to the top of the best-seller list in its first week ... What Happened contains anecdotes that will be alternately uplifting and heartbreaking to her most ardent supporters. Detractors will seize on ammunition for affirmation of her sanctimony and inauthenticity ... But let’s face it: The book would be much less interesting — and, frankly, less honest — without her sometimes caustic airing of grievances ... As with any politician’s account of a campaign, What Happened is less than the definitive word on what really happened in 2016. Accounts by journalists and historians in the mold of Theodore White (his 'Making of the President' series set the standard) tend to be richer in revelation, more illuminating in context and more thorough in scope ... With the publication of What Happened, those words, those dreams — and those tears — can now be shared. The answer to the question of 'what really happened?' remains elusive.