PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewWhat powers this book is the chase, Klam’s relentless effort to excavate, verify and contextualize every fact and facet of the Morris sisters’ lives ... is very much a research-driven book, but what elevates it beyond a glorified fact-checking assignment is Klam’s palpable yearning — she wants to know who these women were, what they went through, how it shaped them. It is biography as an expression of love ... the book sometimes reads as a kind of frenzied paean to local record-keeping ... It’s easy and pleasurable to follow Klam wherever she goes. She has a light touch, and is unpretentious, self-effacing, quippy; she is the kind of obsessive who’s fun to listen to ... There’s a strain of mawkishness and cheap pathos I could have done without, and the quips can wear thin, but those are minor sins; you roll your eyes and continue reading. Less forgivable is Klam’s tendency to succumb to a kind of speculative sentimentality .. .the overall effect is lovely. As the rumors and myths are pruned and the gaps filled in, the Morris sisters emerge and differentiate themselves, and Klam, movingly, is there to meet them.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksTimothy Snyder’s recent Bloodlands is something of a landmark: ambitious enough in scope and breadth to not just add to our existing knowledge of the history of the war, but to change how we look at it ... Bloodlands was unique and original not in its research or findings but in its purview and frame. Bloodlands is primarily, if not solely, a narrative of victimhood, a history of the mass murders committed by Hitler and Stalin ... Snyder defocuses the prevalent Western narratives of the war (e.g. Holocaust) and skillfully (if kind of bluntly) demonstrates its multivalency and its incomprehensible man-on-man violence. This hasn’t been done before, or, at least, has never been done before as well.
MixedThe Los Angeles Review of BooksMoonglow’s sweet, sad emotional core is packed into a very busy narrative ... With all this going on, the book could have been a mess, could have collapsed into a narrative muddle, but Chabon is very good at organizing stories. Despite the rapid timeline hopping, we’re never unanchored ... But at times the unrelenting spectacle can be hard to take seriously, because the tone is set to a kind of softhearted slapstick, a wholesome if superficial silliness that feels like 1950s television ... In broad strokes, then, the story is moving, engaging, even rollicking...But up close, it can feel schmaltzy and melodramatic.