RaveThe Washington PostJeffrey Frank doesn’t attempt to emulate David McCullough’s cradle-to-grave biography, published three decades ago. Frank instead glides over Truman’s pre-presidential years to deliver a well-researched, balanced and pithy account that thoughtfully explores the unlikely triumph of one of the nation’s most consequential presidencies. Frank’s prowess as a storyteller brings to life the major episodes of Truman’s tenure while drawing an intimate portrait of his internal struggles as he clashed with foreign and domestic rivals and led a group of heavyweights that came to establish a winning blueprint for the Cold War.
Peter S. Canellos
PositiveThe Washington PostInstead of the definitive say on Harlan’s legacy, this biography offers thoughtful contributions to these ongoing debates and insights into the principles shaping the justice’s thinking, bringing us closer to comprehending his unsettled legacy and, more tellingly, casting a light on why it has morphed over time ... should Harlan be revered or reviled? Canellos does not definitively settle this question, but the ways the rest of us attempt to answer it will surely influence contemporary constitutional debates and reveal a great deal about our own changing values.
Jed S. Rakoff
PositiveThe Washington PostRakoff reaches far beyond corporate boardrooms to highlight an array of shortcomings within the criminal justice system ... Just like his criticism of plea bargaining, the book’s most compelling moments cast doubt on widely held assumptions about the justice system ... The one hiccup in this pithy and persuasive work is a detour denouncing the broad scope of presidential authority. It is a brief diversion from the question at the heart of the book: Rakoff may paint a convincing picture of a broken and unfair criminal justice system, but will others sign on to his proposals? Making sweeping changes to plea bargaining, downgrading the emphasis on forensic evidence and eyewitness testimony, and reducing prosecutorial discretion have little traction among law enforcement groups and political leaders. Though few judges have joined Rakoff’s push for reform, his message to fellow jurists is more likely to resonate: \'Unless we judges make more effort to speak out against this inhumanity,\' he asks his colleagues, \'how can we call ourselves instruments of justice?\'
PositiveThe Washington Post... authoritative and engaging ... Perlstein’s knack for bringing these long-forgotten clashes to life and his eye for telling details — along with cameo appearances by Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Trump, a \'hungry young killer\' out to conquer New York real estate — conjure many eye-opening moments. Although Perlstein rarely draws explicit comparisons to modern-day politics, the unnerving parallels between the time periods — and the origins of the many divisions currently ailing the nation — jump off nearly every page. Reading Reaganland, it’s easy to identify Trump’s imitation of the New Right’s ploys and its fixation on toxic, socially contentious issues to woo voters through emotional appeals ... Lacking the bountiful incisive commentary of Perlstein’s earlier work, however, and bogged down by the unremitting rotation between multiple story lines, Reaganland’s narrative doesn’t reach full speed until the 1980 campaign.
Robert A. Caro
RaveThe National Book Review\"While offering bountiful advice, Caro’s succession of colorful anecdotes keeps the memoir breezy and accessible. His masterful storytelling oozes out of every page, transforming seemingly mundane topics—combing through archives or traversing the barren hill country of Johnson’s youth, for instance—into stirring dramas ... [Caro\'s] persistence jumps from nearly every page ... For anyone who reads this virtuoso expound upon his craft, Working will be worth the extra wait.\
PositiveLos Angeles Times\"... a vivid portrayal of [The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vice, and BuzzFeed] ... [Abramson\'s] insider account — a combination of extensive firsthand reporting illuminated by insightful analysis — instead portrays just how the media arrived where it is today ... Abramson holds no punches in her lengthy portrayals of those at the helm of these companies ... For the most part, Abramson is fair ... Throughout the book, Abramson references but — just like many stakeholders in the media — doesn’t offer many remedies for this dark reality.\
E. J. Dionne Jr.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesDionne's expertise is evident in this finely crafted and convincing work. He appears to have read nearly everything about the subject, including a bounty of conservative writers such as Ramesh Ponnuru and David Frum, and interviewed Republican insiders in preparing what amounts to a lamentation of the GOP's trajectory over the past half-century.