MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewCaldwell warrants attention. He is one of the right’s most gifted and astute journalists, noted especially for his thoughtful writings on Europe ... provocative and pessimistic ... If you think Caldwell sounds like Bannon, the self-appointed tribune of Trumpian working-class populism, you’re right. But the conservative critique of Davos Man has a lot to say that deserves a hearing ... Perhaps the author should have come up for oxygen when he found himself suggesting that the Southern segregationists were right all along. Reading this overwrought and strangely airless book, one would never imagine a different way of viewing things ... Perhaps most depressingly, Caldwell’s account, even if one accepts its cramped view of the Constitution and its one-eyed moral bookkeeping, leads nowhere. It proffers no constructive alternative, no plausible policy or path. The author knows perfectly well that there will be no \'repeal of the civil rights laws.\' He foresees only endless, grinding, negative-sum cultural and political warfare between two intractably opposed \'constitutions.\' His vision is a dead end. Unfortunately, it also seems to be where American conservatism is going.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewShapiro’s spiritual challenge to secularism is not new. In fact, it is venerable ... Why, then, did I find his book so dispiriting? Partly because, instead of contending with great ideas, it deploys them as if they were toy soldiers or characters in a video game. The head spins as he trots past thinkers from Plato to Steven Pinker, frequently rendering tendentious judgments along the way ... Although I am sympathetic with elements of the author’s case, his galloping reductionism left me enervated and wishing his short book were even shorter ... May we hope that someday Shapiro will leaven his combativeness with curiosity?
MixedThe Washington PostAmy Chua’s compact, insightful, disquieting, yet ultimately hopeful book is both a sign of the rediscovery of the primacy of tribalism and a lucid guide to its implications … Her short book relies on a handful of case studies and examples to draw broad conclusions, so scholars will want to be cautious with it; but her accessible and provocative treatment sets up just the right public conversation. She takes her argument in two directions, one foreign, the other domestic … Chua’s observations on international affairs, although useful and timely, will not surprise anyone who has been paying attention...More interesting, and more challenging, is her take on tribalism here at home.
Robert D. Kaplan
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewFor those who feel disoriented, and also (perhaps especially) for those who feel triumphant, Robert D. Kaplan’s small but magisterial new book, Earning the Rockies, is a tonic, because it brings fundamentals back into view. With only 180 uncrowded pages of text, this is a book that can be read on a coast-to-coast flight, but fully digesting it will take much longer. Every page brings a fresh insight, a telling aperçu, a bracing reality check ... a musing travelogue, one that seeks, in words as carefully chosen as gemstones, to bring America’s geographic and geopolitical fundamentals back into the picture ... Kaplan embraces America’s quasi-imperial role but is no imperialist. His book is most challenging, and most valuable, for the layers of paradox it mines. Geography and union make the United States a hegemon whose auspices create the conditions for globalization — but globalization diminishes America’s geographical advantages and erodes American unity. Meanwhile, as globalization uproots local economies and norms, the communications revolution spawns new tribal and ideological identities, everything from jihadism to alt-right ... Earning the Rockies was written before the 2016 election. The name 'Trump' appears only a few times. Yet there is more insight here into the Age of Trump than in bushels of political-horse-race journalism...Where are we now? In territory that is uncharted but not altogether unfamiliar. President Trump may try to ignore the paradoxes of geography and globalism, but he cannot escape them. In the long run, Kaplan reminds us, the shape of the river constrains the pilot’s course. America will continue to lead, because it must.