MixedThe New York Times Book Review...[a] wide-ranging and sharply written new study ... Lynskey largely refrains from participating in the quarrel over Orwell’s and his novel’s true teachings and rightful heirs. If anything, The Ministry of Truth can seem too remote at times from its subject matter. For a \'biography\' of 1984, it contains surprisingly little sustained discussion of the work itself, mostly referring to it in brief, though insightful, asides that are dispersed throughout. There could have been more in-depth analysis of the dynamics of power in Orwell’s totalitarian state ... Nor does Lynskey illuminate the literary or intellectual qualities that distinguish Orwell’s novel from its many predecessors and descendants in the dystopian genre. In short, while we learn a great deal about the evolution and influence of 1984 as a cultural phenomenon, we sometimes lose sight, in the thick of Lynskey’s historicizing, of the novel’s intrinsic virtues—of what makes it distinctive and accounts for its terror and fascination in the first place. Lynskey is surely right, however, to note that the meaning of Orwell’s novel has shifted over the decades along with the preoccupations of its readers; and that in our low, dishonest moment, it is \'most of all a defense of truth.\'
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewIt is an unusual hybrid: part courtroom procedural, part double portrait of Kafka and Brod, part account of the postwar construction of Israeli and German national identity ... Balint writes most naturally in the interrogative mode, preferring the probing of difficult questions to easy resolutions. A gifted cultural historian with a scholarly sensibility, he is perhaps less suited to the role of investigative reporter ... The latter material, dense with the names of lawyers and the convolutions of the proceedings, feels plodding at times. Balint never quite manages to illuminate the motivations ... Whatever the case, one comes to tire of the courtroom rigmarole, longing to return to the roomier vistas of Kafka’s mind.