PositiveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewThe walk is really little more than a cultural touchstone and a literary conceit, the event around which McCann has assembled his cast. But the metaphorical possibilities of the walker — the paradox of this innocent, unsanctioned act of divine delight being carried out between two buildings that would one day be so viciously and murderously destroyed — are hard to ignore, particularly in a novel so concerned with the twin themes of love and loss … It is a heartbreaking book, but not a depressing one. Through their anguish, McCann’s characters manage to find comfort, even a kind of redemption.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt’s a refreshingly counterintuitive point of view. The conventional wisdom has always been that New York had reached a point where it simply could no longer afford such an expansive network of public institutions and services. Sacrifices were necessary...But, as Phillips-Fein argues, none of this was a foregone conclusion when the city first confronted the fiscal crisis. She revisits the familiar story with fresh eyes, seeing it not as part of an inexorable, if painful, evolution but as a battle between two competing views of the city and its government ... What else might have been possible? This is the one realm in which this powerful and involving work of narrative history comes up short. Phillips-Fein makes a convincing argument that the city’s abandonment of its liberal ideals was a choice. What she doesn’t do is offer a different path, imagine an alternative history for New York.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review“The stories in The Confidence Game can feel a bit clipped and superficial ... But this may be more of a statement about the endlessly juicy possibilities of the subject matter rather than a criticism of the shortcomings of the book.