PositiveThe Washington Post... less a formal portrait and more an impressionist mosaic made up of the strongest fragments of Payne’s reporting ... Payne’s is very much a journalist’s book, focused on clearing up factual disputes and re-creating fly-on-the-wall details, and he adds invaluably to our understanding of Malcolm’s story at three key junctures in particular ... More than 50 pages of Payne’s book are devoted to the events surrounding Malcolm’s assassination in February 1965, while he was giving a Sunday afternoon speech at the Audubon Ballroom north of Harlem, and the account is gripping ... At other points, Payne’s research becomes a bit too exhaustive ... A little more personal confession would have explained Payne’s lifelong obsession with Malcolm X and elevated the narrative voice of this book another notch.
Peniel E. Joseph
PositiveThe Washington Post... [an] excellent joint history ... Joseph retraces some ground that will be familiar to anyone who has read those books, but for the most part he smartly zeros in on the relatively brief period during which King and Malcolm actively influenced each other, even if they had no personal contact. It is a fascinating story, full of subtle twists and turns, that unfolded in three phase.
PositiveThe Washington PostIn his meticulously researched and absorbingly written book, journalist Charles Fishman provides both a celebration of the Apollo 11 mission and a corrective to some of the myths that have crystallized around it ... To the criticism that the Apollo program was a \'moondoggle\' (in the words of sociologist Amitai Etzioni) and a waste of billions of dollars that could have been better spent addressing social ills at home, Fishman offers a persuasive defense ... As tempting as it would be to recommend One Giant Leap as a welcome diversion from our current political chaos, that meditation invites the question of what has become of that spirit in the self-dealing era of President Trump...But Fishman rescues what could have come across as an outdated paean to American exceptionalism with a crucial caveat.
RaveThe Washington PostSwenson has produced a compelling, beautifully written book that goes well beyond that initial journalistic probe into a grave injustice. Good Kids, Bad City is a powerful addition to the growing literature on the failures of America’s criminal justice system, particularly in dealing with African American men. But it is also a gripping, novelistic account of what happened to the three defendants and their lone accuser after the convictions, a frank confession of the methods and emotions of an obsessed reporter, and a poignant meditation on the dark side of Cleveland and what became of that once-proud embodiment of Midwestern virtues that allowed this travesty to happen.
PositiveThe Washington Post\"[The book\'s first half is] a good tale, but not as good as the second part of the book, which is devoted to the improbable run of the baseball Tigers ... To place this rich local drama in historical context, Haygood occasionally digresses into summaries of landmark stories that in one way or another set the stage for it, from the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that sanctioned segregated schooling to an entire chapter on how Jackie Robinson broke the baseball color barrier. Unfortunately, some of these summaries are long enough to interrupt the narrative but not long enough to do justice to important details... Yet that’s a small flaw in a book that is both highly readable and a valuable contribution to the under-appreciated history of the African American North in the wake of the Great Migration.\
Michael Eric Dyson
PositiveThe Washington PostIn this short and passionately written book, What Truth Sounds Like: Robert F. Kennedy, James Baldwin, and Our Unfinished Conversation About Race in America, the prolific scholar and commentator Michael Eric Dyson revisits a turning point in Kennedy’s moral and intellectual odyssey on the issue of race ... When it comes to artists (and athletes), Dyson invokes a sometimes dizzying array of pop-culture stars and phenomena, from Jay-Z and Beyoncé, to LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick, to Hamilton and Black Panther. But where he is most illuminating and provocative is in discussing figures like himself: black public intellectuals.
MixedThe Washington PostKing’s three years at the Crozer Theological Seminary, south of Philadelphia, marked an important turning point in his life and are well worth the exclusive focus they get in this compact, readable and well-researched book ... Parr’s most interesting revelations trace King’s growth as a preacher and public speaker ... Presumably, readers will come to a book called The Seminarian expecting to discover how three years in divinity school influenced King’s religious and political ideas. On this score, Parr offers course catalog descriptions and some vivid stories, but not much in-depth reflection. He relates unpleasant episodes at local diners that stoked King’s anger at Northern racism ... King’s vision of himself as a \'drum major for justice\' also had much in common with the Old Testament prophets, whom he studied in depth at Crozer. Here, too, Parr offers little analysis, but he does leave readers with a memorable image.