RaveNew YorkerIt’s brave, in a way, that Desmond has chosen such a different approach for his bracing new book ... More manifesto than narrative, Poverty, by America is urgent and accessible. It’s also austere. There aren’t many stories about individuals ... A slim book, at fewer than three hundred pages of text, but it’s packed with revelations ... An appealingly ad-hoc and flexible approach.
RaveThe New YorkerCrisply written, prodigiously researched, and frequently astonishing ... Gage certainly does not deny Hoover’s talent and taste for...dark arts, but she wants to emphasize a simpler explanation, one less flattering to America’s self-regard. For a very long time, most Americans admired Hoover ... There have been other big, ambitious biographies of Hoover, but G-Man is the first in nearly three decades. One advantage to writing about him now is that, in the realm of national security, revelations burble up over time, files get declassified, foia requests haul out unexpected specimens in their nets. But some of Gage’s freshest takes concern Hoover’s upbringing in a respectably middle-class but emotionally beleaguered family, and the formation of his racial attitudes in a college fraternity with a sentimental attachment to the Jim Crow South. Many of the book’s other sharp assessments come not from secret documents but from generally available historical sources that the author has read with close attention or particular nuance.
RaveThe New YorkerMuch has been written about Garbo over the years, but Gottlieb, a former editor of this magazine, has produced a particularly charming, companionable, and clear-eyed guide to her life and work—he has no axe to grind, no urgent need to make a counterintuitive case for her lesser movies, and he’s generous with his predecessors. By the end of the biography, I felt I understood Garbo better as a person, without the aura of mystery around her having been entirely dispelled—and, at this point, who would want it to be? ... Though she had a sense of humor, she emerges in Gottlieb’s portrait as prickly, stubborn, and stingy ... In today’s terms, Garbo might have occupied a spot along the nonbinary spectrum. Gottlieb doesn’t press the point, but remarks, \'How ironic if ‘the Most Beautiful Woman in the World’ really would rather have been a man.\'
PositiveThe New YorkerPrager is not unsympathetic to McCorvey, but he sees her clearly ... He paints a believable portrait of a woman who cared about flirting and fun, seduction and sex, attention and affirmation...but not about ideology, or politics, or anybody else’s rights, really, let alone their souls ... Prager got an astonishing array of people to talk to him for this book ... The book is most compelling, though, when it’s relating the personal saga of a woman and her family caught in the gears of history ... Its drive comes from Prager’s efforts to track down the three daughters whom McCorvey gave up for adoption ... It’s like a fairy tale set in working-class America, each sister carrying a secret and a curse.
PositiveThe New Yorker... fascinating ... Sohn’s book is not a biography, and that’s all to the good ... Comstock’s targets who feature in Sohn’s book are...like the outsider artists of activism, creating their own unschooled, florid, and enraptured works of protest. Reading Sohn, I grew quite fond of them ... Taken together, these tales of the unexpected also offer a fresh angle on the history of American free-speech activism. Many of us think of it as beginning with the founding of the A.C.L.U., in 1920, and its defense of political radicals hounded under the Espionage and Sedition Acts, not with dreamy, self-taught sexologists expounding on the delights of the body ... the language [Comstock] used to describe...the women he sought to arrest and imprison, was revealing. One anecdote that Sohn relates—she has a gift for summoning up such scenes—reminded me vividly of modern-day Internet trolls.
PositiveNew YorkerIn a sprightly new book...Nathalia Holt, a science journalist and a popular historian, introduces us to a handful of women who worked on some of the classic Disney Studios films, spins them around, sprinkles some pixie dust, and has them take a bow. She’s a little like a fairy godmother, wanting us to think nothing but the best of her charges, perhaps wishing that she could send them back out into the world with a bluebird or two twittering at their shoulders. I wasn’t always convinced that the five women she focusses on were as influential as she suggests, but I enjoyed reading about them in the workplace they shared.
RaveThe New Yorker\"The British writer Sarah Moss’s new novel, Ghost Wall... compresses large and urgent themes—the dangers of nostalgic nationalism, the abuse of women and children, what is lost and gained when humans stop living in thrall to the natural world—into a short, sharp tale of suspense ... I read Ghost Wall in one gulp in the middle of the night. It was a worthy match for 3 a.m. disquiet, a book that evoked existential dread, but contained it, beautifully, like a shipwreck in a bottle.\