PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Traig mocks contemporary and historical parenting advice with usually spot-on dark humor ... Ms. Traig, thank goodness, takes pains not to portray herself as an expert anyone should emulate ... The one flaw of Act Natural is that Ms. Traig is so taken with the silliness of her historical material that she starts to repeat herself ... Almost every other page has a footnote taking the reader off on a tangent that doesn’t quite fit in the narrative ... This can make for a disjointed reading experience ... The upside of reading Act Natural is that you feel better about whatever nonsense your children have committed, which is the point.
Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalTales of political correctness run amok—indeed, many of the incidents recounted in The Coddling of the American Mind—are nothing new to anyone who has been paying even fitful attention to college trends ... Despite the \'coddling\' angle of the title, Messrs. Lukianoff and Haidt try not to fall into the trap of claiming that modern young people are uniquely lazy or whiny ... it is unfortunate that many of the proposed solutions in The Coddling of the American Mind are less than satisfying ... The authors’ most compelling idea is that elite colleges show a preference for students who are mature enough to engage with the world as it is rather than demanding a world of safe spaces.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalOur sorority sisters were the picture of ambition\' back in college, the authors write in The Ambition Decisions: What Women Know About Work, Family, and the Path to Building a Life. Yet in middle age, much seems challenging. \'Things hadn’t turned out exactly as they’d planned.\' People made compromises; they fretted about their choices; they did what they could to make life work ... After interviewing 43 women...the authors—mercifully—don’t draw any polemical conclusions about what women want. The primary take-away is that women want many things, and different things at different times ... If anyone is feeling adrift in midlife, this may be the most useful advice in The Ambition Decisions, even if it is not the point of the book and is not specific to women either: Friends—especially old friends—make life feel better, no matter how ambitious you are.
Thomas L. Friedman
MixedThe Wall Street Journal...his ambitious book, while compelling in places, skips about a lot. His attempt to cover much of the history of modern technology, for instance, quickly descends into gee-whiz moments and ubiquitous exclamation points ... While many of Mr. Friedman’s arguments may be sensible, he seems to believe he must claim that a higher power is on his side ... Mr. Friedman ends his inquiry into technology and globalization with by far the best part of the book: an eloquent mini-memoir of growing up in the small town of St. Louis Park, Minn.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalPlenty has been written in both these veins. The internet is a gee-whiz wonder that will change everything (that’s the magic part) or a force destroying and dumbing down culture (the loss). Ms. Heffernan tries to avoid both extremes, mostly by choosing off-beat examples ... The author is at her best pointing out the natural but silly inclination of elites to denigrate much internet fare ... Sometimes all these explorations can be a bit much ... Nonetheless, Magic and Loss is an illuminating guide to the internet.