RaveNew York Journal of BooksThomas offers sharp insights into Japanese beliefs and customs—especially martial virtues—that allowed the country to go on fighting for so long. He also dispels certain myths, such as the one that the United States wanted to intimidate Russia at the start of the Cold War. A nuanced, absorbing, and perhaps definitive story of the last weeks of World War II.
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"Huang’s expansive biography draws on Wong’s diaries and other sources to reveal intimate details of her life; it also offers deep dives into myriad aspects of Asian American life, such as Chinese laundering ... It is an outstanding work, filled with insights and stories, and written with authority.\
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksA sharp observer, his memoir soars ... Pinckney, a diligent note-taker, often goes on about nothing much here. There is plenty of gossip, much detail about rivalries and animosities, and passages about writers quoting from the work of the masters at one another. At times it is a bit much—dizzying, not always in a good way—and the author’s use of the dash for quotations marks is simply annoying. (Yes, Joyce did it; so, what?) ... Nonetheless, Pickney captures heady times among the New York literati of the period and pays proper homage to his mentor. His book is engaging, well-written, and certain to please the strongly literary minded.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksGripping ... Often sad, sometimes funny, and always absorbing, this unusually candid memoir will be a must-read for Newman fans.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksStashower offers a clear-eyed view of Ness ... Stashower offers a meticulous account of the unproductive investigation, leaving no lead or body part unnoted. He draws extensively from Cleveland newspapers of the era ... However necessary, Stashower’s extensive quoting of newspaper reports sometimes grows wearisome ... Largely sympathetic to Ness, the author nonetheless details his ensuing years of decline ... Although Stashower is an accomplished storyteller, some readers may feel let down when the suspense of this bodies-galore account comes crashing to an unsatisfying end. We are left without an identified killer and with Ness’s storied career and personal life in tatters. Nicely crafted, the book will appeal to hard-core Ness fans and true-crime freaks.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... superb ... Specialists will be especially interested in reading about Frankfurter’s years on the Court and his relationships with other justices ... Most general readers will be fascinated by Frankfurter’s essential strengths as a man of character and integrity who used his \'gift for friendship, eye for talent, and passion for public service to create the liberal establishment\' ... Deeply researched and written with authority, Snyder’s book examines virtually every aspect of Frankfurter’s career and, despite its length, remains wonderfully readable and accessible ... an eye for telling details ... A monumental account of a life in public service, Democratic Justice is welcome reading for our troubled time.
RaveNew York Journal of Books... riveting ... [a] remarkably immersive narrative ... Bad City, a startling tale of people looking the other way and behaving ever so badly, never lets up. It is one whopper of a true-crime story, written with an immediacy bound to win readers.
Robert Samuels, Toluse Olorunnipa
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksA sometimes painful read, this revealing deep dive into George Floyd’s life places his tragic story in the broader context of race in America.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books... richly detailed ... offers a meticulous account of both poisonings and names the murderer ... The depth of [Bremmer\'s] research into Jane’s death as well as \'the politics, power struggles, and scandals of Gilded Age San Francisco\' is extraordinary—especially since relevant police and private detective documents were lost to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire ... Patient readers will thoroughly enjoy White’s precise accounts of Jane’s life and times. Others, not so much ... the author is so enamored of the historical period that his descriptions of San Francisco politicking and wrongdoing hamper the narrative flow.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksRichly detailed ... The author takes pains to show that the ensuing health crisis—ignored at first by state authorities—became a national and international obsession for months because of the outrage of neighborhood families ... Drawing on some 130 hours of interviews and newly accessed documents, the author tells the entire raucous story with fervor and immediacy. He captures the ire and passion of the Love Canal community ... Younger readers will find themselves swept up in this intense account of a notorious toxic waste disaster nearly four decades ago. Other will gain new understanding of the complexities of \'Love Canal.\' Exhaustive yet eminently readable, Paradise Falls is a wonderful achievement—a splendid work of storytelling.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksFisher’s deep commitment to these patients is evident. Each story becomes a window on the terrible inability of even his major medical facility to promptly and efficiently provide needed care. The reader may wonder why he doesn’t move on to another big-city hospital. Similar situations exist in all of their ERs, he writes. His intimate accounts of what goes on at Chicago will alarm anyone about the terrible state of America’s emergency medical care ... His book will give health policy makers much to consider about ways to improve care ... With a foreword by Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Emergency is a moving, well-written account of American ER care and the disadvantaged that demands wide attention.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... meticulous, well-researched, sometimes overlong ... Hardcore true-crime buffs will wallow delightedly in her frequent excerpts from the Buckley-Smith correspondence and from courtroom testimony. For others, the lengthy, unnecessary quoting sometimes becomes tedious ... A bit lengthy, Weinman’s absorbing and highly readable book succeeds in capturing the full story behind a notorious murderer’s brazen quest to avoid the death penalty by any means possible.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksSprawling and episodic ... Quinones also offers insightful chapters on our growing understanding of addiction ... The Least of Us does a fine job of detailing the devastation wrought by the synthetics that now dominate addiction. Alas, there may be too many stories. His tales of addicts and their families have a scattershot effect, losing their power as they pile up one on another. Several longer stories offer an in-depth account of situations but are told in interspersed instalments that are hard to follow. Even so, the author provides a terrifying close-up view of addiction and its toll in disparate communities ... The Least of Us confirms his place as a leading chronicler of an American nightmare.
Anna Lembke, MD
RaveNew York Journal of BooksWriting in plain English, Lembke devotes much of her book to explaining how the brain processes pleasure and pain ... Authoritative, compassionate, and valuable, this book provides a fresh understanding of the many dangers of addiction in our \'hyper-medicated, overstimulated, pleasure-saturated world.\'
RaveNew York Journal of Books... powerful ... In eye-opening chapters, she explains how...changes in the brain affect adolescents in all aspects of their lives ... The Rage of Innocence is an important and timely book—an intelligent, compassionate, and indispensable argument on behalf of Black children.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksAnyone who remembers responding with glee to the words \'The circus is in town!\' will agree that the show, with its riotous live entertainment, provided \'an adrenaline rush,\' as the last owner of Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus once remarked. Unfortunately, veteran author Standiford’s Battle for the Big Top, a readable and meticulous business history of that circus, fails to deliver the same excitement ... A nicely crafted popular history, Battle for the Big Top will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered about the men who gave us the thrill of three-ring circuses.
RaveNew York Journal of Books[Tremlett\'s] gripping narrative recreates the heartbreak and heroism of the conflict ... A highly readable, monumental account of the idealism and suffering of the most international army ever assembled since the Crusades.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThe Icepick Surgeon is filled with fascinating, sometimes horrifying stories of scientists trying to solve human problems, often ignoring human concerns .. Sam Kean’s crisp, bright storytelling makes these tales of out-of-control scientists irresistible.
Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... brightly written ... Business junkies will enjoy the details on deal-making that lace these pages. Most readers will be left incredulous at the unmitigated gall and greed that drove all the major players ... A revealing, highly readable account of megalomania run amok.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksBerman’s story, while riveting, becomes so bizarre and convoluted that it deserves a companion key—a book much like the explanatory key available for readers of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake ... Berman’s book is full of stories ... Both captivating and frightening, Don’t Call it a Cult will astonish most readers.
Eric Dean Wilson
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksThe author hangs a fascinating, troubling story—several, actually—on the history of Freon ... Wilson describes this phenomenon in detail, so that we see how much our obsession with cooling comfort has affected our home and office lives ... The author’s comprehensive account manages to cover everything from race and climate to controversies over air quality in schools to how A/C made the South \'less southern\' ... Well-written, unexpectedly engaging, and perhaps a bit overlong, After Cooling is a knockout debut by a gifted writer.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... dramatic, comprehensive ... Aside from his recurrent (and necessary) damning of Trump’s poor handling of the crisis, Wright manages to offer nuanced insights that place the entire period in context ... He does a fine job describing the workings of the nation’s public health system, its underfunding, and the strengths of Dr. Anthony Fauci and others who spoke from a scientific perspective ... In all, there is a surreal aspect to the calamities of the plague year, made all the more apparent when recalled in a rational, well-written narrative ... Many readers will wonder what future generations will make of this sad and epic account of failed national leadership during a health catastrophe. Nailed down by one of our finest writers, the story is almost unbelievable.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThis extraordinary book—a great pleasure to read—warrants every fine review it has received. It will win prizes ... Few will read this history and not see these artists, writers, and others in a new light. These more than 800 pages are wonderfully littered with portraits of such individuals as George Orwell, Hannah Arendt, Jackson Pollock ... Drawing on wide reading and much research, the author helps us view these figures and their work in often unexpected ways ... Throughout, he writes in highly accessible prose, as if discovering a person or topic for the first time (hardly the case). He is brilliant, and likeable, exhibiting passion for artists and ideas. There is excitement in his writing. And it helps bring the reader deep into subjects that never seemed all that interesting.
PanNew York Journal of BooksTo say that we peek behind the curtain in this book is understatement. Seife, to his credit, explicates Hawking’s considerable scientific contributions at length. But he also gives new meaning to warts-and-all biography ... Seife tells Hawking’s story in reverse, from his death to his birth, to trim away all the awards and hoopla and reveal the true man. Doing so was a poor choice; it adds little to our understanding of the scientist. A more puzzling decision is the author’s care to betray no empathy whatever for his subject. He clearly admires Hawking as a physicist but deplores the scientist’s complicity in hawking his brand. He’s entitled to that opinion, but it casts a wearisome pall over the book. It sometimes reads like a hatchet job. Together with tawdry details on Hawking’s two difficult marriages, his sexual escapades, and his need for help with such matters as voiding, the author’s sometimes unseemly account will leave many readers unsettled. Hawking fans will be distressed; disability activists will be flummoxed. Readers seeking a less hard-edged life of the physicist must look elsewhere.
John Woodrow Cox
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... absorbing ... at once painful to read but vitally necessary if Americans are to understand the \'widely ignored\' epidemic that affects millions in ways we still do not fully understand ... The children’s moving stories, together with views of experienced doctors and other experts, are likely to startle many readers, no matter where they stand on the gun issue ... A strikingly empathetic, well-crafted report, Children Under Fire is an urgent call to sensible action on behalf of our nation’s children.
RaveNew York Journal of Books... exceedingly dark ... Fortunately, Jenny Diski is an absorbing, savagely witty, insatiably curious, and gifted writer. She is direct, unafraid, and full of surprises. Her intelligent essays on wide-ranging topics (from childhood memories to Stanley Milgram’s famous study of obedience) will leave readers wondering why they have not been aware of her ... a splendid introduction to her nonfiction (she wrote 10 novels) and may well lead smitten readers to the author’s works of travel and memoir ... Often couched as book reviews, her pieces all seem to stem from a singular, solitary place where she is asking fundamental questions about life and living ... Here and elsewhere in this collection, her intelligence and winning fierce honesty are bound to snare many readers.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksWhy bother recounting the \'dangerous and degrading\' conditions African Americans faced in evolving forms of travel since the pre-Civil War era? For University of Pennsylvania historian Bay, author of this important and disturbing book of historical reclamation, the need is apparent ... engrossing ... Over time, local customs and laws varied greatly, and Bay has captured nicely the nuances of travel across regions. She makes clear how segregated transportation worked and how important its eradication (with passage of federal legislation) has been to the freedom of Blacks ... Filled with vivid first-person accounts, Traveling Black is a superb history that captures a shameful aspect of the American story.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksA sweeping account ... Brimming with nicely woven stories, gossip, and insights, Brownstein’s book recounts month-by-month the cultural upheavals of the year ... Some of the author’s stories will be familiar to many readers. But he has interviewed artists like Linda Ronstadt, Warren Beatty, and others in depth, and explores the backstories of songs, TV shows, and movies in ways that recreate the energy and excitement of the era ... the author has crafted an unusually readable story of how Los Angeles once ruled popular culture. His book will conjure a welcome blast from the past for many readers. For others, it will be a bright introduction to the year when flower power burst into the wider American cultural life.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books... the author brings readers back into horrifying moments broadcast world-wide of Black children and teenagers being sprayed with fire hoses. His reflections leave the author with a recognition of the weaknesses of men and a new understanding of his complex feelings toward his father ... An affecting blend of memoir and history, Shaking the Gates of Hell offers an unflinching account of a family in a tumultuous time.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksActivist and writer Tim Wise, now in his 50s, has lectured on race for many years. In Dispatches from the Race War, a collection of essays written from 2008 to the present, he shares some of the clearest, most honest thinking about racism, inequality, and white privilege that you are ever likely to hear from a white man ... With compassion, intelligence, and—yes—sometimes anger, Wise raises questions unlikely to occur to most privileged whites ... In more than four dozen essays, he offers fresh insights on events of the Obama and Trump years ... Wise aims to strengthen the knowledge of whites already committed to racial justice and to help others resist uninformed arguments ... A challenging read that illuminates harsh truths of our time.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... absorbing ... Writing with warmth and humor, science journalist Nijhuis offers innumerable stories of the men and women—birders, scientists, hunters, and others—who played seminal roles in the haphazard advancement of modern species conservation ... Nijhuis gives us the remarkable stories of humans who have made a difference for other species.
RaveNew York Journal of Books... revealing and well-written ... Brooks manages to see all this clearly ... Tangled Up in Blue helps us see the deep complexities of policing and their effects on men and women in uniform ... Provocative, intelligent, and useful, Tangled Up in Blue will help many readers understand the nuances shaping the present crisis in American policing.
Wendy A. Woloson
RaveNew York Journal of BooksWhile great fun, [Woloson\'s] book is a serious, lively, and brightly illustrated account of cheap commodities and how they have been marketed, sold, and consumed ... A tireless researcher, she has rummaged through the American attic to write Crap, and offers enough clippings and photos of gadgets and whatnot to make her book a nostalgic romp.
Henry Louis Gates Jr.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... complex and fascinating ... [a] wonderfully concise and readable companion to a PBS documentary of the same title ... embraces the full range of Black religiosity, from tiny storefront urban churches to the megachurches now rising around the country. In Gates’ capable hands The Black Church is a stirring story, told with compassion, respect, and not a little awe.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksToday, a crumbling ghost town, Soul City is hard to find. What happened? In this sympathetic, deeply researched, and heartbreaking account, Healy, a professor at Seton Hall Law School and author of The Great Dissent, details the innumerable obstacles that blocked the way for a bold venture in racial equality.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksThe author offers no solutions to the problems she describes, although clearly, in her view, capitalism is not the ideal system for encouraging worker satisfaction. Instead, rather abruptly, she concludes what’s needed is a world that allows us to \'value the relationships we have with others.\' To create such a world, we must free love from work ... Far too long, a bit heavy on the politics, yet bound to make many readers reexamine their working lives
PositiveNew York Journal of Books... quite revealing. First, it captures the frenetic atmosphere of the rallies ... Second, it offers a good sense of the attendees ... Third, the book gives Hoffman an opportunity to celebrate blue-collar life and the teamwork and brotherhood of many workers ... A sobering, scarifying account that leaves the reader exhausted and in awe at the author’s endurance during these ritual gatherings of the MAGA tribe.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksTaub offers a smart overview of white collar crime, a term coined in 1939 by sociologist Edwin Sutherland. She notes that in eras when \'the people\' have more influence and control, corporate leaders are held responsible. In the Progressive Era, for instance. In our own time—the Trump era—not so much ... Taub urges reforms, including creation of a new Justice Department division focused on big-money criminals, establishing a nationwide registry of white collar criminal offenders, and staffing up the IRS so it can audit tax evaders and collect billions of dollars in already identified tax receipts ... The author is a realist. \'From prep school and beyond, the elite cover for each other,\' she writes. Nonetheless, strengthening government’s ability to act can only help. It might even prevent future Donald Trumps. A timely, eye-opening tale of elite white privilege run amok.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksMichaelis details innumerable stories of people and events in Eleanor’s life, from her years as the increasingly engaged first lady to her roles in Democratic Party politics to her work as a newspaper columnist and speaker after Franklin’s death in 1945 ... Much of Eleanor will be familiar to many readers, but Michaelis’s rendering is especially bright and a pleasure to read. Few other books reveal the fascinating inner journey that transformed Eleanor from an emotionally choked-off young woman into a mature leader who inspired millions.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... warm ... revealing ... A small, fun, and insightful book, She Come By It Natural can be enjoyed on its own or as a perfect companion to Marsh’s Heartland.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... Freeberg offers a full, brightly written, anecdote-filled account of the career of Henry Bergh ... Freeberg offers absorbing stories of Bergh’s conflicts with notables of the day ... Highly readable.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... splendid ... highly readable, deeply researched ... The author does a fine job depicting Alexander’s intense determination to learn the reason for the unexpected deaths ... Conant segues nicely into the introduction of chemo amid the medical rivalries and cancer-treatment complexities of the past-war era ... From tragedy to triumph, The Great Secret traces these extraordinary wartime and medical events with a grace and authority certain to please readers.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Arsenault’s portrayal of the devastating impact of unregulated capitalism on the lives of poor, mainly dark-skinned people is a serious indictment of the American way ... Anyone who has ever tried to understand their hometown will be drawn to this wrenching debut ... Despite her rambling narrative, the author’s appealing writing—graceful, discerning, and compassionate—will keep many readers turning the pages. A decidedly downbeat story for this difficult moment, then, but undoubtedly a revealing exploration of America’s overlooked and forgotten.\
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksEngaging and provocative, Diamond’s encyclopedic meditation will certainly help readers—no matter where they live—think about what lies ahead for the outlying areas of our cities.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksIn accessible prose, [Olson] explores all the scientific complexities, offering a vivid picture of the dawning nuclear age ... Olson considers important questions, from whether the horrific bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were needed to end the war, to the unforeseen problem of the possible adverse health effects of nuclear waste left at the Hanford site ... This well-researched book can be a bit heavy on science at times for general readers, but it is a solid, valuable work on a critical aspect of America’s wartime quest for an atomic bomb.
David Paul Kuhn
RaveThe Washington PostKuhn argues persuasively that the riot sparked a vast national political shift driven by a widening divide between the working class and the educated elite that has led to the era of the Trump presidency ... Kuhn’s accounts of the violence are vivid and raw. It was a brutal, ugly day, with instigators on both sides. For those of us who lived in New York at the time, the book rekindles painful memories. For me, then a young opponent of the Vietnam War, Kuhn’s narrative brought a new understanding of the spontaneous, \'demonstrably sincere\' actions of the hard hats ... The author concludes with a sharp analysis of how the revolt of the White working class almost immediately reshaped American politics.
PositiveThe Star Tribune... exquisite research ... Ball sifts through the uncertainties, fills in gaps using inference and implication, and successfully renders a disturbing story of a Klansman.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksKhazan tries to do much too much in her well-written, often absorbing work of memoir and reportage ... Contrary to her claim, Khazan is not weird. Nor are many, if any, of the three dozen unusual individuals she has interviewed. They are all different, by virtue of some combination of appearance, behaviors, or circumstances, or all of the above. Their stories are fascinating. But don’t expect a parade of the ultra-strange. They’re not here ... An interesting account of often painful lives, then, but hardly an occasion for celebrating your inner weirdness.
RaveThe Star TribuneWe have sorely needed the grounding provided by Final Draft ... In sentences \'as clear and straight as spring water,\' to borrow a phrase from Rudyard Kipling, he wrote about media, politics, popular culture and other topics with an honest, often blunt, sometimes biting style that eviscerated phoniness, especially when it besmirched the craft he loved ... in lengthy profiles, [Carr] could embrace gifted celebrities, often addicts, with understanding ... In an unexpected gift to young journalists, the book contains the engaging syllabus for a communications class Carr taught at Boston University in 2014. Filled with knockout reading lists ... His own hard-won prism illuminates much of this gratifying book.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books[Lee] offers overwhelming evidence that xenophobia is not an aberration, but a \'constant and defining feature\' of U.S. life ... Timely, well-written, and essential reading.