RaveThe AtlanticGross has delivered a second harvest of his career-long work. It is a measured, beautiful volume that brings warm life, accuracy, and complexity to local history, swooping between the bird’s-eye view and the tracery of many individual destinies ... Gross uses our devotion to those familiar heroes to interest us in the ordinary story of a tight-knit town turned unusual birthplace ... Gross’s 600 pages of absorbing narrative, plus 200 more of illuminating notes and documentation, are a refresher course in the birth of a market culture and a mass democracy in the age of Andrew Jackson, followed by the rise of the antislavery cause and stirrings of sectional conflict. Gross gives these grand trends a habitation in 25 square miles of Massachusetts farmland, where he detects a steady erosion of social unity ... puts Thoreau’s experiment in solitude in context ... Gross’s fascinating revelation is that boys like Keyes came under the spell of Emerson.
RaveBookforum... awe-inspiring ... Lerner has hit on something deep, and true, in the portrait of \'debate\' in this book, as what it has long seemed to be—the knightly combat or martial arts of children of the professional-managerial class, where they can practice the linguistic violence they’ll use as adults against real targets in politics, the law, and administration ... The beautiful recollections of childhood in The Topeka School allow for a Portrait of the Artist–type origin story in which Adam’s eventual triumph as a poet, and as the writer of this novel, occurs by the neutralization of the voices of debate and white rap with his mother’s feminism ... The Darren plot seems a way to lend a convention of suspense, familiar from other contemporary novels, to a book that is better than most contemporary novels. Perhaps its virtue is as a reminder of the persistence of exclusion in a progressive civilization—our own—which redeems some new subjects only to despise and scapegoat others.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"This is a superb biography ... [Leader] has managed to write a sympathetic, judicious, 700-page second volume here, which one can recommend on its own merits. I even came to admire Bellow more at the end than the beginning. How on earth did Leader do it? ... I found myself reading for the reappearances of [Bellow\'s sons] Gregory Bellow, Adam Bellow and Daniel Bellow, who are richly realized as characters and emerge as thoughtful commenters on their father’s life ... Equally vibrant are the characterizations of the adult women who intersected with Bellow ... Leader finds Bellow out in his letters, unpublished manuscripts and published books, and pulls gems into the light. The surprise and treat of this book is how much Bellow stayed a master, sentence by sentence, every time he picked up a pen.\
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"The pleasure of this unusual work and the bulk of its pages, belong to short biographical accounts and reflections on the philosophers, poets, novelists and even bygone political figures whose volumes Kaag finds on the Hocking library shelves ... Kaag’s accounts are accurate, engaging and scrupulous. They show profound learning. They’re also genuinely entertaining, recapturing lost details of thinkers’ personal lives without sensationalism ... American Philosophy succeeds, not as a textbook or survey, but a spirited lover’s quarrel with the individualism and solipsism in our national thought.\