PositiveThe New RepublicSunbelt Blues is a kind of ethnographic revisit: a check-in with old research subjects to see how things are going. The answer is discouraging ... While Ross completed this book largely before the pandemic, he makes it painfully clear that investors are once again circling distressed homeowners who are behind on their mortgages. They have even acknowledged building up their cash reserves to snap at deals when eviction moratoriums expire. While the book is anchored in the decline of Celebration and the housing chaos of Route 192 just past its borders, the mouse ears nearby cast a big shadow ... The coda to Ross’s adroitly written book focuses on the continued fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Higher housing prices, less job security, and the search for work across state lines may normalize the peripatetic life of weekly motel rentals for the working class priced out of cities.
PositiveThe New RepublicBorchert, through a series of biographical chapters on some of the best-known authors, engrossingly shows how the New Deal recognized art as labor and why that model should be reinvigorated today ... Republic of Detours mobilizes New Deal history to help us imagine what our society would be like if federal tax dollars supported a reserve army of muralists, poets, and oral historians.
PositiveThe New RepublicThis is not the man portrayed in Tom Wolfe’s 1981 book From Bauhaus to Our House, which pilloried Gropius as a bore, concerned only with the elitist project of modern architecture. MacCarthy transforms him from a dull institutionalist...into a stylistic rebel who lived and loved in an exuberant community of artist outcasts that would be scattered across the world after Weimar Germany became the Third Reich. Whereas critics of the Bauhaus have seen it as the harbinger of giant faceless office towers and superhighways slicing through cities, MacCarthy presents the school as a fount of idealism ... Most of all, MacCarthy shows that Gropius’s true legacy was the talent he nurtured in others—I.M. Pei, Philip Johnson, Paul Klee, Marcel Breuer, and Wassily Kandinsky, to name but a few ... If, as has been said, the Bauhaus was the ultimate art school, Gropius was the definitive dean.
PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksWhile Slezkine’s narrative traces the emergence of a new society and its eventual betrayal, his chief theme is the religious nature of Soviet communism. The House of Government was not merely a place for the anointed but a monastery for true believers. And as Slezkine shows, like so many communities of messianic faith, this order succumbed to a witch hunt and the purging of those whose conviction was in doubt ... Slezkine exposes a vast multinational social network, based in Moscow but stretching to Siberia, Kiev, Berlin, and beyond. The lives of those involved and their myriad connections are described in such abundant detail that one can be both overwhelmed and inspired, as one often is by a classic Russian novel.
Robert D. Kaplan
PositiveSlateEarning the Rockies is at its best when Kaplan explains how the ideology of conquest was slowly replaced with the romance of naturalism and Theodore Roosevelt’s conservationism.