PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... vividly described with fascinating twists and turns. Hagedorn has clearly devoured a mountain of research, so it’s disappointing when, writing about the discovery of nuclear fission, the author credits \'two German physicists in Berlin in late 1938.\' In fact, although the experiments were run by the German scientists, the revolutionary interpretation that the atom was being split was made by an Austrian Jewish woman who had fled to Sweden. Lise Meitner should have been correctly credited, especially given that one of Hagedorn’s most important sources was a scientist colleague of Koval’s, Arnold Kramish. Kramish wrote a book about another atomic spy, this one for the Allies, who used Meitner to get information about what her colleagues were doing in Germany since they stayed in touch through letters. This lapse makes the reader question the accuracy of other assertions throughout the book. It’s a good adventure story, well told, but how reliable is the research that underpins it when such an error is included? ... What is certain is that Koval successfully passed on information that shortened the time the Soviets needed to make their own atomic bomb. Equally clear is how anti-Semitism ran through both the United States and its rival, and how that hatred affected scientists on both sides. The story of how Koval’s involvement was ultimately revealed is compelling, but the even more gripping narrative is how and why he became a spy in the first place. Hagedorn navigates her way through the many layers of deceptions, telling a story worthy of John Le Carre.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThe whole novel is one tightly connected braid of liberty/imprisonment in forms that are political, physical, societal, emotional, and psychological. Sahota has created a complicated vision of the choices we make and the degrees of freedom we have to make them. His words stay with the reader long after turning the last pages.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksLike Tara Westover’s Educated, Cheryl Diamond’s memoir tells the harrowing story of how crippling a childhood can be under the despotic narcissistic rule of a controlling father ... There comes a point in the family’s travels when the father decides his family should become Jewish ... Diamond, sadly, doesn’t bring to bear any adult wisdom to her descriptions of this, as she does in other instances of her father’s bad choices ... This is a big flaw in the book, especially now, as anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise ... Still, Diamond has a powerful story to tell, and she tells it well, creating strong characters and settings ... Diamond’s story is one of the family as oppressive, controlling cult ... Diamond raises as many questions as she answers, as the best books do.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksRadtke uses both words and images to powerful effect in this deep exploration of loneliness in all its facets ... The art is stunning, creating a Hopper-like effect of disaffected isolation. Even more amazing, Radtke is able to keep up the interest and intensity page by page, creating a kind of graphic documentary deep dive into loneliness. The art goes a long way to keeping our interest. Although her writing is strong, the book would definitely be less powerful without her brilliant use of imagery to expand on the text, to create mood and meaning. The art somehow keeps the book from becoming too depressing to bear, as a book on loneliness easily could be. Radtke has found the right balance and given a sterling example of how graphic novels are uniquely able to get readers through tough subjects.
Rebecca Hall, illus. by Hugo Martínez
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksHall has done some incredibly thorough research to find these missing women and tell their stories as vividly as she can ... In general, though, the art by Hugo Martinez doesn’t add much to Hall’s powerful story, which is a shame, given the inherent potential of the graphic format. The emotional power of creating characters, settings, visual pacing are singularly missing from the art form, which contents itself with visually echoing the text rather than expanding beyond it. If the story were printed as text only or heard as an audio book, there wouldn’t be the sense of missing an important part of the narrative. The one advantage of the graphic format may be that it makes a tough story more accessible by breaking it up over more pages, allowing the reader the rest of the page turn. If the format brings more readers to this important history, that’s reason enough to welcome the graphic illustrations ... a good place to begin retrieving this past. High school students should be especially eager to read this history, a sense of 1700s America they won’t find in their textbooks.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksAs usual, Bechdel is ruthlessly honest, her sharp gaze helping us see ourselves, our culture, more clearly ... The book captures well her constant search and she beautifully describes the endorphin rush that is the reward of pushing oneself physically. She also does a lovely job of weaving in zen philosophy ... a compelling story ... Bechdel does finally find some inner calm, conquering symbolic and actual mountains, but the book, which brings us into the present with 2020 election, doesn’t end on the expected zen note.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThe book outlines many fascinating and crucial events, with much information packed into each paragraph. Throughout all the details, Wickenden keeps the focus on how attitudes toward slavery and women’s rights changed, how the two causes worked together for human rights at a time when that notion didn’t exist. She’s especially good at showing how strong, determined individuals can make big changes, how lone voices can find others to join into a powerful chorus. There are a lot of names to keep straight but the story is powerfully clear—the horrors of slavery demanded everyone to respond ... Wickenden does a brilliant job of weaving all the complicated threads together, telling a compelling story that we thought we knew well. This is history at its best: personal, powerful, and inspiring.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksKaiser has crafted a book that’s several intriguing, intertwined stories. What holds it all together is the author’s voice—intelligent, sensitive, wry, and deeply honest. This isn’t a grand adventure and there are no tidy endings. It’s messy, complicated, conflicted—and deeply resonant ... These are complicated issues and Kaiser does an exceptional job of laying out not just the different perspectives, but his own conflicted feelings. Through it all, the background of Nazi evil and Polish anti-Semitism loom large. But there are no caricatures here, no easy simplifications. Instead Kaiser offers us a richly multilayered series of mysteries, all colored by the horror of the Holocaust and what it means to be a Jewish in the wake of such history ... This is a brilliant book, one that lays out several gripping mysteries and reveals how the personal is very much political, all wrapped in a compelling narrative that will keep readers turning the pages, hoping for a resolution that glimmers in the distance like a mirage.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksMcCall packs a lot into his memoir ... He provides wonderful details about these work environments and the fascinating creative people he met. He has clearly been everywhere and done everything when it comes to commercial art and satire ... With a warm, inviting voice, McCall invites us into his world and shows us the nuts and bolts of creativity. There are no complicated descriptions here, no evocations of a distance muse ... The book is threaded through with these wise and accessible insights ... a warm, humorous guide to the journey.
David S. Brown
RaveNew York Journal of BooksBrown ends up delivering what he proposes: a deep history of American as lived through one man, a man born into Boston’s privileged elite, part of a family at the nexus of U.S. politics and culture ... Brown makes Adams feel like a contemporary ... By writing so thoroughly about Adams’ intellectual development, the reader is shown assumptions and beliefs that still run deeply through American culture. This is history at its finest, proving clearly how the past is very much part of the present. We just have to know where to look.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... isn’t a typical graphic novel, though there is art. Instead it’s a fascinating hybrid format, part history/philosophy/rumination, part graphic imagery ... There’s an immense amount of reading and research crammed into these pages, all served up in an easily digested format ... After reading Katchor, Aleichem’s stories glow with a unique depth and meaning. What seemed like mere folklore take on greater significance ... lovingly chronicles and restores a vanishing cultural fixture for us. This time, though, he’s added a thick lawyer of scholarship and though-provoking musings. He has served up a very satisfying dish here.
Julie Des Jardins
RaveNew York Journal of BooksJulie Des Jardins brings impressive research skills in her biography of Missy Meloney, the most important feminist nobody has heard of ... this one small sickly woman packs more into her life than any ordinary human being. Reading this biography is like reading the lives of several people. Des Jardins rightly stresses Meloney’s role as facilitator and cheerleader, showing how important this kind of support can be for scientists, writers, and politicians. Meloney’s life serves as a kind of blueprint for how women can help each other ... Des Jardins’ writing inspires all of us in the way Missy clearly inspired others. It’s an incredible feat for a biography to serve its subject so well.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksParkin weaves together several stories in this one well-crafted book ...Parkin is a gripping writer, describing the living and fighting conditions aboard the claustrophobic submarines. He presents vivid characters in the commander of the U-boat fleet, Karl Doenitz, and his most effective captains ... Parkin creates clear characters and evokes a world ... Parkin doesa masterful job of evoking the sweep of this vital piece of naval history in both broad strokes and the telling detail. Every war buff will want to read this book. And anyone interested in strategy would be wise to read it as well.
Margarita Khemlin, Trans. by Lisa Hayden
RaveNew York Journal of BooksMaya isn\'t an appealing character. She\'s far too vain and self-absorbed for that, but her voice draws the reader in, introducing us to a Jewish culture that is wounded, trying desperately to recover and maintain some dignity in a country that despises it ... Klotsvog isn\'t an easy story, but Maya is a brilliant character. Not just an unreliable narrator, she\'s an unreliable person, someone raised in hunger and fear who is desperate to find a comfortable place in the world. Khemlin has created an unforgettable character and opened a window onto a world more people should know about.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksProviding the historical and scientific context gives this book a heft and depth ... The use of art, the unique capabilities of the graphic format, are deployed to their best advantages here. Even the most scientifically averse will find these pages compelling, the drama of the storytelling carrying the reader through the scientific and philosophical details. The drawings of Galileo\'s moons are especially lovely ... In this wide-ranging story of exploration, Fetter-Vorm captures both the mystical pull of the moon and the many men and women who worked hard to understand and reach it. This is a complex story, many strands woven together into a brilliantly compelling blend of words and pictures, taking the reader into their own voyage of exploration.
George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott, Illus. by Harmony Becker
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... a stunning example of how the graphic novel format can make tough subjects accessible ... Takei and his co-authors do a brilliant job of telling this story from several perspectives ... The official reasons and the ugly laws responsible for the internment camps are carefully portrayed, evoking echoes with current forms of demonizing \'others\' as national security risks ... The text walks a careful balance, giving enough bureaucratic language to evoke the full cruelty of the new law without burdening the reader in too much information ... There\'s justifiable anger and outrage in this book, but the writers let the facts speak for themselves ... The art by Harmony Becker serves the story well. It\'s spare, evocative, and emotionally powerful, just as the text is. Together, this book presents a riveting story of a horrible injustice enacted with careful, logical cruelty in the name of national security ... A riveting story of a horrible injustice enacted with careful, logical cruelty in the name of national security. In the wake of similar stories happening now, the publication of They Called Us Enemy could not be more timely ... A copy should be sent to every member of Congress and the Justice Department.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksIn this time when immigration is such a hot topic, Malaka Gharib puts an engaging human face on the issue ... The push and pull first generation kids feel is portrayed with humor and love, especially humor ... Gharib pokes fun of all of the cultures she lives in, able to see each of them with an outsider\'s wry eye, while appreciating them with an insider\'s close experience ... The question of \'What are you?\' has never been answered with so much charm.
Josh Frank, Tim Heidecker, & Manuela Pertega
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Josh Frank has done an enormous amount of research, tracking down the elusive scenario ... Frank\'s work pays off ... The magic of two very different temperaments, Dali\'s and Harpo\'s, is both jarring and delightful, surrealism delivered with a broad wink and a tip of the cigar, Groucho Marx style. The creative team behind this book have risen to the challenge and created something completely unique: a graphic novel based on a surreal/slapstick film that was never made. That in itself is quite an accomplishment. Dali and Harpo would applaud their efforts.\
RaveNew York Journal of Books\"... masterly ... Fies uses vivid language and dramatic art to put us inside his shoes ... This is beautiful writing, visceral and deep. The deceptively simple drawings make the horror accessible and clear. The way the story unrolls, from fleeing danger to recognizing the depth of the loss, is dramatic and natural at the same time ... Just the story of the fire and its aftermath would make for a stunning book, but Fies adds layers of depth to the memoir by including other people\'s stories.\
Paul Buhle, Steve Max, Noah Van Sciver, and Dave Nance
MixedNew York Journal of Books\"Eugene Debs was certainly the most important figure in the movement and Eugene V. Debs: A Graphic Biography does an excellent job of describing Debs’ life and work, his passion and purpose ... The text makes [it esier to cover so much material] by introducing each section with an overview written like a standard history, followed by details made evocative and accessible by the graphic format. Granted, some of the prose tends to be purple ... The one major drawback is the academic backmatter one expects from a subject that was so well-researched. Though there\'s a \'further reading\' page, there is no bibliography. There is a timeline, but no quotations. Are the words put in Debs\' mouth actual quotes or invented dialog? Many readers won\'t care, but teachers and librarians who might use this book in high school classes will miss that layer of academic assurance.\
PositiveNew York Review of Books...a compelling weaving of stories ... The words are brilliant, but the art is oddly unsatisfying, which is surprising since so much of this graphic memoir is about drawing and the creative process ... The pacing, the visual narrative are all strong despite the weakness of the actual line, which shows how powerful the work is and how much more powerful it could have been ... Finck has written a fascinatingly deep look into our shadow selves, into what makes us complete, what defines us ... The metaphor of the shadow self, part soul, part gut instinct, part core self, is beautifully evoked in each person\'s story. The pages with the shadows are also some of the best rendered. Still, there is an unsettling lack of definition to all the faces in the book ... some readers may be fine with the scribbly minimalism of Passing for Human. But it is also a missed opportunity for visual richness.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksFor readers used to his oddball sense of humor and arcane references, he\'s created his most mainstream book yet in All the Answers, the kind of book his own parents would read ... The writing is clear, direct, and poignant—powerful ... Kupperman does a superb job of showing how intrusive fame can be, especially for a child. He paints his own relationship (or lack thereof) with his father equally well.