PositiveNew York Journal of BooksIt’s a mind-blower, but author Nicole LaPorte deftly charts a course through today’s obstacle course of college applications in her fascinating expose of Rick Singer and the so-called \'Varsity Blues\' scandal that captured America’s fancy. If you wondered how it happened, and why, Guilty Admissions: The Bribes, Favors, and Phonies behind the College Cheating Scandal has the answers ... The book’s ending is somewhat unsatisfying as it leaves open what ultimately happened to Singer and many of his co-conspirators ... In a true Hollywood cliffhanger ending, the author closes the book by teasing the moment that a prosecutor approached the cameras at a press conference ... Guess we\'ll have to wait for the sequel.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksBeatriz Williams has already proven herself a master of the historical fiction genre. With her latest, Her Last Flight, she has again proven herself worthy of the honorific ... Williams deftly weaves a story that spans multiple time periods and multiple points of view, with strategically placed surprises that readers will not soon forget ... a compelling read about the human condition. It teaches the reader, as it taught Janey, that notwithstanding preconceived notions people may have about others, \'nobody is all good or all bad; that hardly any battles are fought between good and evil. There is more good and less evil, or more evil and less good\' ... The author also explores the price of fame, or maybe it is more aptly described as the cost of fame ... Beatriz Williams deftly fits together the characters, stories, and themes that the narrative services into a cohesive whole. The pieces all align perfectly, and she has shaped them together brilliantly. Her Last Flight is a gem of a book.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksWith a voice uniquely her own, author Elizabeth Wetmore weaves together the threads of each desperate life into a compelling tragedy that cries out, unheard, for justice ... Forget hooking your reader in the first 10 pages; Valentine hooks by the second sentence ... a remarkable story, brilliantly told ... Wetmore is a native of west Texas, and it shows in a narrative that utilizes place and time as characters as surely as if she had named them ... though the pace is deliberate, the prose almost makes the reader wish he could linger with these characters—and get to know some of the lesser characters, mentioned only in passing, a little better ... Few novels cut to the conscience the way Valentine does, in a time and place where justice isn’t blind, but should be, and where injustice wears cowboy boots and jeans and has white skin. It’s a difficult story, as tragic as it is inevitable...Bravo!
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... invaluable in understanding what happened then and, sadly, raises questions of whether we, as a nation, learned anything at all from that experience ... Wine-Banks puts readers inside the prosecutors’ war room, picking up where congressional committees left off. She offers insights into prosecutorial decisions and little known, or previously unknown, stories that offer a new appreciation for hard-working lawyers who endured the thankless task of taking on the most powerful man in the world ... Although Wine-Banks also finds time to weigh in on the current state of political affairs, and their parallels to the Nixon era, the book’s real value lies in lessons learned, and perhaps some not learned, from the past. It’s one thing to watch an impeachment proceeding play out on television. It’s another to be behind closed doors where strategies are devised and decisions made. The Watergate Girl puts the reader in that room. For the history or politics junkie, there is no better place to be.
Deborah Riley Draper
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... should not be read so much as a diatribe against racial inequity, although those evils are clearly outlined, but rather as a lifting up and honoring of a remarkable group of men and women who proudly represented their country despite those inequities. Some of them won medals while others did not, but the character they demonstrated in the face of adversity, and the examples they set, are far more valuable than gold.
Peggy Wallace Kennedy
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... seeks not only to answer the ‘why’ of George Wallace’s behavior, but also to reconcile his legacy of bigotry and hatred, and subsequent redemption, with his daughter’s own legacy of a lifetime spent trying to right the wrongs he perpetrated.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksFor most Americans, Disneyland has always been, but few have any understanding of how it came to be. Richard Snow fills in that gap in our collective consciousness ... In a series of fascinating vignettes, Snow takes the reader through the process of fleshing out Disney’s ideas for Disneyland, an innovative amusement park unlike any other at the time.
James D. Zirin
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksIt’s only fair to note upfront that Zirin, a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, appears to have an axe to grind against Donald Trump. That’s not to say that his viewpoint lacks merit but simply to remind the reader that Plaintiff in Chief is not an objective work of journalism ... Rather than adopt a helter-skelter approach to these staggering numbers, Zirin breaks down the litigation into more easily digested, broad topics ... Much of what is contained in the book is not new, at least in terms of the headlines. What is new, however, is the level of detail into which [Zirin] goes to carry his thesis ... \'The Constitution, the rule of law, has no meaning for [Trump], not even the constitutional tradition of majoritarianism with protections for minorities.\' Readers will have to draw their own conclusions, but whether they agree or disagree, Plaintiff in Chief offers some very distasteful food for thought.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... a riveting account of the terror visited on a community when their children go missing, made even more horrific by helplessness felt when polite society and the media ignore them, and law enforcement barely seems to muster a token effort to find them. Not all law enforcement, of course, and the author gives credit where credit is deserved, highlighting the diligent efforts of some, such as RCMP detective Garry Kerr.
Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksIn this imminently readable and fascinating account, the authors share an important story and bring to light a devilish problem that had largely been swept under the rug ... is at its best when telling the story of getting the story for The New York Times on movie producer Harvey Weinstein and his decades of debauchery with women under his sphere of influence and then buying their silence with confidential settlement agreements. That section of the book reads like a thriller, with an evil-doing villain covering his tracks, and the authors, as detectives, hot on his trail as they uncover his dirty secrets ... The book also covers the story of Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing and the testimony of his accuser Christine Blasey Ford. This portion is not as compelling a narrative as the Weinstein intrigue—primarily because the authors are spectators to those events, rather than participants as they were in the Weinstein story. Nevertheless, the Kavanaugh hearings even more clearly illustrate the obstacles faced by those who have been abused by the powerful, especially when the bully pulpit of the President of the United States can be enlisted to intimidate.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe reader will be horrified at not only the actions of Nassar, but also the verbally and physically abusive conduct of coach John Geddert, who, in effect, drove the girls into Nassar’s web, but also by a conspiracy of silence by so-called \'responsible adults\' ... While many of the gymnasts gave statements at Nassar’s criminal sentencing, for some, The Girls offers them a first opportunity to speak. By doing so, they break out of the role of victim and transform themselves into the role of heroic survivors ... The Girls is their story of courage and Larry Nassar is now nothing more than a footnote.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksIn what amounts to a psychological profile of Thomas, rather than a straight biography or even legal analysis of his decisions, The Enigma of Clarence Thomas attempts to explore and explain just exactly what it is that makes the justice tick ... The arguments Robin makes for his assessment of Thomas are sound but, even though they have a logical basis in Thomas’s past, they actually shed little insight into the Thomas of today. Each step of the way, the events and influences in Thomas’s life that led him to his self-described \'Road to Damascus\' turn to the right could just as easily turned him to the left. Instead, today we have a justice for whom \'enigma\' may well be an understatement.
Julia Flynn Siler
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksWhile the historical context is fascinating on its own, Siler tells a story that is more than mere history, but is also a story of inspiration and shame ... The White Devil’s Daughters is their story. It’s worth a read.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksFor book lovers, there is a thrill to discovering a great story populated by intriguing characters and unexpected dramatic twists. The thrill is compounded when that story fronts for a fascinating backstory that might even outshine the primary tale. And when the stars align perfectly, both stories are told by a fresh, authentic voice. In Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, author Casey Cep has hit the trifecta ... Furious Hours is a true gem and its author, Casey Cep, is the real McCoy.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksWhile much is known about the two successful accidentals, Roosevelt and Truman, and the partially-successful Lyndon, the latter Johnson, much of the book’s treasure lies in earlier, lesser known accidentals ... Because the thesis of the book is about ascension to office due to a president’s death, it does not include Gerald Ford, who may well have been accidental-squared, first reaching the vice presidency only because of Spiro Agnew’s resignation under a cloud of scandal, then stepping into the Oval Office because of Richard Nixon’s resignation under his own cloud of scandal. But that, one supposes, is a topic for another book.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books... reads like a combination family history and national tragedy on two continents. It includes tales of heroism and sacrifice, ambition infected by evil, and politics tainted by corruption and ineptitude, and maybe worse, indifference. The British statesman Edmund Burke said it best: \'All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.\' In the end, The Unwanted is a call to action for good men and women everywhere. It is imperative that we heed the call.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"... insightful ... The author skillfully traces Roberts’s rise from childhood almost as if he were a man of destiny, yet with human insecurities with which we can all identify ... Although one might think a conservative future will naturally follow from a conservative past, a truism previously betrayed by the likes of Chief Justice Earl Warren, the legacy of the Roberts Court in the Trump era is still a blank slate.\
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"In The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, [Harris] goes on the record, unequivocally, with the core principles that drive her ... The bulk of the text addresses specific issues that the author champions, and although she cautions up front that the book is \'not meant to be a policy platform,\' it can certainly be read that way. What makes it different, though, is that her discussion of those issues is neither esoteric nor academic, but is instead rooted in real life experiences, not only hers but also of those with whom she has crossed paths in her career ... Regardless of your political affiliation, and whether you agree or disagree with her, you can’t say she’s afraid to speak her mind.\
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Ward deftly traces the political histories of [Kennedy and Carter] leading up to that eventful primary in 1980 ... Ward offers an insightful look at Carter’s rise through local Georgia politics ... Camelot\'s End thoroughly examines not just the primary campaigns of Carter and Kennedy, but also the human frailties that combined with events to wreck both men’s chances in 1980. That, and a Republican juggernaut named Ronald Reagan.\
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksLifts the curtain for a behind-the-scenes peek at how presidential campaigns often reflect personal grudges that either motivate or taint the respective candidates. In a sense, it reveals that even presidents can sometimes be nothing more than aging children carrying adolescent chips on their shoulders ... Rauchway provides valuable insights into the minds and motivations of Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt and, in so doing, offers a valuable contribution to American political science that is well worth reading.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe Spy Who Was Left Behind tells a fascinating story of one man’s quest for the truth, even if that meant putting his own life at risk for someone he had never met. Pullara attacks the problem as a good lawyer would attack a legal case, methodically examining documents, interviewing witnesses, researching, making site visits, using the press ... Intrigue heightens, and the stakes rise ... Michael Pullara sets a standard for idealistic attorneys to strive for. Whether he succeeded or failed is not the heart of the matter; it’s the fact that he tried. The Spy Who Was Left Behind tells that story.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksIn Operation Columba: The Secret Pigeon Service, author Gordon Corera dips into the secret files of Britain’s MI14 for this fascinating account of pigeons, peasants, and patriots and how they aided the Allied war effort both from within and without Nazi-occupied territory in World War II ... But while the use of homing pigeons is more than an interesting diversion, this is ultimately a story of human heroes, trapped inside Nazi-occupied Europe, who risked their lives for the cause of freedom ... For students of history, and also for casual readers who simply enjoy learning new and unusual aspects of history, this book is a real gem. You’ll probably never look at pigeons the same way again. You might even be willing to forgive them for occasionally soiling your clothes on a city street.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThis is a book for Hollywood lovers, especially lovers of the golden age when the studio system cranked out movies like products on assembly lines. The moral of the story is that, when the rich and powerful die, they are just as dead as the poor and oppressed. The final exam is how they are remembered for living their lives when they were above-ground. To hear Karina Longworth tell it, Howard Hughes flunked.