PositiveNew York Times Book ReviewWhite offers up a rollicking account of Jane Stanford’s final years and violent death, all set against the seamy San Francisco carnival culture of the era ... Although she is the story’s central character, White does not make much effort to understand Stanford’s behavior, the dynamics of her marriage or what drove her cruelty ... There’s pleasure in watching an author revel in his material. White has taken a deep dive into the archives, and he gleefully analyzes the conflicting testimony, newspaper accounts, Stanford documents, old city directories and memoirs written by the key players ... The conclusion is anticlimactic given that the signs have been pointing in this direction all along — although White does come up with the name of a plausible accomplice. Despite the catchy title, solving the murder isn’t really the point of this book. Instead, it’s an intriguing look at the sordid Gilded Age history of a respected and storied academic institution.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review...a more sober assessment of Duke’s life and accomplishments ... Bingham adds a trove of new material to the Duke oeuvre, including revealing quotations from letters and details of daily life on Duke’s many estates. But she is allergic to telling the story in chronological order. The book jumps back and forth in time so often that there’s no coherent narrative or character development. The biography is also weakened by Bingham’s hedged presumptions of what Duke was thinking or knew ... Bingham recasts Duke’s life — often portrayed as a miserable and frantic search for love and acceptance — into a more exuberant account of the experiences and opportunities of her era, as well as her serious quest to be useful and recognized for her artistic talents and eye.
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...prodigiously researched and engrossing … Mundy’s narrative turns thrilling as she chronicles the eureka moments when the women succeed in cracking codes, relying on a mixture of mathematical expertise, memorization and occasional leaps of intuition … Mundy paints a vivid portrait of the daily lives of these energetic single young women — the upheaval and challenges of adjusting to the high-pressure military environment, the condescension and sexism from male colleagues and superiors, the cramped living quarters, the constant anxiety over brothers and boyfriends in harm’s way, the wartime romances, weekend high jinks and stress-related breakdowns … Thanks to Mundy’s book, which deftly conveys both the puzzle-solving complexities and the emotion and drama of this era, their stories will live on.
Kate Clifford Lawson
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewMany of Larson’s best anecdotes and quotations are mined from previous books...But she has amplified this well-told tale with newly released material from the John F. Kennedy Library and a few interviews. By making Rosemary the central character, she has produced a valuable account of a mental health tragedy, and an influential family’s belated efforts to make amends.