RaveLos Angeles TimesFox Butterfield’s new book, In My Father’s House: A New View of How Crime Runs in a Family, is a book about family values. Of a particular sort. Butterfield, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist...traces a single extended family and its long trail of crime across geography and time, 60 (yes, 60) moonshiners and burglars, murderers and kidnappers, con men and drug dealers, car thieves and bombers. Grandparents, parents, children, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, in-laws and cousins, criminals all. What we might see as a bad apple might instead be proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree ... a...multiperson topic-specific biography — the characters and context are strongly drawn and the whole creates the feel of drama even though we pretty well know where the story is going — but it’s also an intriguing and sometimes disturbing deep dive into some powerful social dilemmas, like the role of parenting (or, more accurately, the lack of parenting, the absence of supervision and discipline) and the collateral damage to other family members in wake of mass incarceration.
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesWilentz finds in America’s founding a deep commitment to egalitarianism, and while this engrossing and deeply enriching book is both history and argument, much of it is devoted to the long struggle for that equality that John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Paine, and a surprising number of the Founders embraced, at least rhetorically ... Unless you’re a professional scholar, much of what Wilentz describes will be like discovering a rich new dessert ... he wants you to understand is that Hillary Clinton was right: Social movements are important in establishing awareness of problems and a demand for solutions. But the solutions come not merely from demands but from effective political action...That point having been made, however, Wilentz's further argument — his case for stronger parties — begins to slip.