RaveTIMENotes on a Foreign Country is Hansen's ardent, often lovely attempt to take self-awareness overseas. It doesn't come along peacefully. But then Baldwin wrote of people in intimate proximity, while Hansen tackles the sins of U.S. foreign policy. Her humans are separated by thousand of miles and opposing governments — Washington, and the ones it manipulates. The one easy thing here is Hansen's company. In Dubai, 'sky and the water melt into an aluminum-hued oblivion.' A Hilton 'had the benevolent totalitarian aesthetic of the United Nations.' A nurse speaks 'in a tone that makes you want to put your head on her shoulder.' If Noam Chomsky could write like this, Hansen's work would already be done.
RaveTIMEThe arson investigation takes in a lot. But the propulsive pleasure of American Fire rests in author Monica Hesse's decision not to force a thing. The book has the brisk diligence of big-city journalism and the languid chattiness of the small town where she lived while researching it ... Hesse gathers the pieces but leaves connections to the reader. When they snap together, the feeling is a bit like gazing upon a blaze you've just lit.
PositiveTIMEThere is a good deal of fumbling and no little intrigue, but nothing as compelling as the forces that moved Levinson to take the extraordinary risk that he did. In his emails and in the accounts of others, he emerges as an aging and cash-strapped former G-man who had a bunch of kids in college, and hopes of returning to the hurly-burly by impressing his enabler at the CIA, which Levinson calls 'the pickle factory' ... Constructed as a nonfiction thriller, Missing Man is at its core a tragedy, Death of a Salesman in the Persian Gulf.
PositiveTIMEFair saw no fighting in his war, yet his book has the stifled anger and hollow feeling of remembered combat ... Consequence is Fair’s attempt to confront what he did, and failed to do. It reads like a compulsion, a bare-bones Dragnet narrative, if Detective Joe Friday were trying to find out why a man who once took refuge in church finds himself playing a Roman.
PositiveTIMEIt pays to remember that the whole point of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction. As Bergen says, if 9/11 happened because we had our guard down, no one can argue that our guard is down now. It’s so far up, it may be obscuring our sight.