PositiveThe Washington PostIn some ways, Mulder’s account of the origins of a damaging but often ineffective tool reads as a dark counterpoint to the more optimistic vision of this period in Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro’s 2017 volume, \'The Internationalists: How a Radical Plan to Outlaw War Remade the World.\' Hathaway and Shapiro put forth the notion that the diplomatic groundwork laid during this period helped make interstate war far less common in the decades to come. Though the two works come to very different conclusions, taken together, both suggest that much of what we often refer to as the \'postwar international order,\' for better and worse, emerged after the first rather than the second world war ... a dense work of history, much of it laser-focused on a fairly short period in which the sanctions regime emerged. At times, one wishes that Mulder had taken the longer view to show how the signature tool of a fairly anomalous period of international relations grew into the default option it is today. Readers are sometimes left to fill in for themselves how the decisions made during this period would resonate in years to come.
PositiveWashington PostAs he insists that maps still matter, he rejects the charge of determinism, arguing that he is merely describing the limits geography places on leaders’ decisions ... At times, the approach can be refreshing and very useful ... Sometimes the arguments are contradictory ... A few of Marshall’s claims just seem like a stretch ... He rightly acknowledges that the significance of physical features changes over time. This is particularly true when it comes to energy.
MixedSlateI mean it as a compliment when I say that this is clearly the work of an author who was himself extremely online for much of this period and has a gift for conveying the overcaffeinated, manic energy of online political discourse ... Reign of Terror is at its strongest when Ackerman recalls some of the outrages-of-the-week of the past 20 years, which may have faded from memory but feel portentous in retrospect ... The book compellingly argues that, the protestations of neoconservative Never Trumpers notwithstanding, Trump’s \'America First\' doctrine was not a break from Bush’s \'freedom agenda\'; it was its inevitable conclusion. Less convincing is the suggestion that, as the subtitle suggests, the war on terror \'produced Trump\'.
MixedSlate\"... one of those books that’s almost too timely. Its long-range predictions already feel out of date ... The first part of Divided We Fall is a very familiar overview of current trends in partisan polarization ... An even more familiar litany of alleged perpetrators...are trotted out as French decries the vitriol and winner-takes-all spirit that have taken over our democracy. Given the party identification of the White House’s current occupant, and which side is perpetrating the vast majority of political violence in the country today, it seems to me that French is reaching a bit to make both sides seem equally responsible for this state of affairs. Then again, according to his schema, I would think that, so it’s worth just conceding the point to get to the more provocative part of the book, which imagines the end result of these trends ... What’s odd about French’s scenarios is that it’s a little hard to tell why he thinks they’re a bad thing ... It’s on the question of civil rights where French’s otherwise scrupulous neutrality starts to break down ... French doesn’t acknowledge environmental issues at all except to sneer at plastic straw bans ... while Americans are too entangled at this point for either formal secession or French’s federalist soft partition, it’s very possible for us to share the same physical space while increasingly living in very different countries.
RaveSlateAmid the flood of memoirs from Obama administration veterans, Powers’ stands out as worth reading. For starters, she’s a better writer than a lot of them—she was a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and author long before she got into government. She’s also done more that’s worth reading about. Like the best journalists, Power has a gift for finding the perfect anecdote to illustrate a larger idea or theme, and this is the rare political memoir where you definitely shouldn’t skim the \'early years\' chapters ... Powers writes movingly ... Also fascinating is Power’s account of her unlikely friendship with her Russian counterpart at the U.N., the late Vitaly Churkin ... She certainly did learn something.