PositiveThe Washington Post... sparing but powerful testimony about her own path to sobriety ... If Nelson is advocating for anything, it’s that the practice of freedom should be spacious enough for its contradictions, its reversals, its sprawling expressions, its ragged edges; getting comfortable with this complexity is essential to finding our way through it. Many will be soothed, nourished, even thrilled by this proposition, which, for a book about a term as loaded as \'freedom,\' is refreshingly flexible. Embrace ambivalence! Dwell in the muck! Others, though, will find it to be a capitulation or an easy way out ... On Freedom. is ultimately a book that asks us to boldly and generously enter the minefield, to pick up what we find useful, to be pushed and provoked, to polish and discard and reinvent, and then to decide, alone and, ideally, in communion, where to go next.
PositiveThe Washington PostIn our moment of ecological and political turmoil, mass migration is often framed as a grave crisis ... However, Shah offers a refreshing and crucially humane counterargument to the idea that migration spells societal catastrophe. Interweaving the human history of movement with parables from nature, she reframes migration not as an exception in an otherwise static world but instead as a biological and cultural norm—and one that should be embraced, not feared ... She largely dismisses the notion of \'invasive\' or \'nonnative\' species as the natural world’s analog for anti-immigration rhetoric, without engaging seriously with the ways in which ecosystems have been severely damaged by introduced flora and fauna. Focused on celebrating migration, she avoids reckoning with the ecological harm roving humans have done to the planet, the effects of which we are confronting with increasing intensity ... Shah’s book is a provocative invitation to imagine the inevitable migration of the future as an opportunity, rather than a threat.
RaveThe Washington PostIt’s a direct, attention-grabbing sprint through what we’ve done to the planet and ourselves, why we haven’t stopped it and what we can do about it. Determined to keep the words \'climate change\' from fading into our \'mental furniture,\' he has gathered the most vivid statistics, distilled history to its juiciest turns, and made the case as urgently and clearly as can be: The whole breadth of our existence—the \'human game\'—is in jeopardy ... Reading this accrual of effects is like stepping back from a painting’s abstract swirl and seeing a fully formed world ... After instilling sufficient terror, McKibben cycles briskly through the intersecting forces that lie behind decades of inaction ... Despite the book’s bleakness, its most stirring takeaway is perhaps McKibben’s soulful insistence that choices remain.
PositiveThe Washington Post...[an] intimate and subjective memoir ... Hanna-Attisha’s quest is full of drama and suspense: late-night number-crunching, slimy government figures, inspired breakthroughs. She’s a breezy, charismatic raconteur prone to feisty character descriptions ... while she paints herself as relentlessly righteous, she also opens up about the toll of this crusade ... While What the Eyes Don’t See can veer into sentimentality and self-congratulation, Hanna-Attisha, too, is wary of the \'single story.\' She threads the book with tales of her immigrant family’s journey.
MixedThe Washington PostThe Poisoned City by journalist Anna Clark provides the first thorough account of the saga and positions it within a more expansive narrative of unjust urban policy, the vicissitudes of industry and the history of American infrastructure ... Clark constructs a bleak portrait of a government marked by opacity, greed and a kick-the-can-down-the-road culture of willful negligence in a city where residents are mostly poor and mostly black ... The Poisoned City is meticulously researched. But in pursuit of comprehensiveness, the book can feel tedious and distant, missing a human element. Clark relies heavily on document dumps and local reporting, so it’s hard to tell what she witnessed and what she gleaned secondhand.
PositiveWashington PostIt is hard to imagine now, but there was a moment, in the late 1960s, when the environment wasn’t a partisan football but rather an intensely popular concern. Americans were dying from smog, oil spills were ruining beaches, rivers were catching on fire, and some 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day, in April 1970. In response to public pressure, Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. ‘Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions,’ the president said ‘…Clean air, clean water, open spaces — these should once again be the birthright of every American. If we act now, they can be.’ … In her new book, Amity and Prosperity journalist Eliza Griswold provides a deeply human counterpoint to this political fray. She takes on the decidedly fraught issue of energy extraction through a vivid, compassionate portrait of one family living in the long shadow of industry.
William T. Vollmann
PositiveThe Washington PostIt is a 600-page amalgam of scientific history, cultural criticism, mathematical experiments, risk-benefit analyses of energy production and consumption, and diaristic meanderings through radiation-festooned landscapes after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. The effect is bewildering ... There are swifter, simpler, more efficient ways to learn about how human impact on the planet has set us striding into a \'hot, dark future.\' But No Immediate Dange\'—written as calculated denial becomes policy—takes a tack that feels appropriate. It is overwhelming. It drowns us in calculations, facts, images, stories. It embodies the confusion of our current moment, the insidiousness of disbelief, and the mania-inducing reality that our greatest threat is the hardest to act upon. It is a feverish, sprawling archive of who we are, and what we’ve wrought.