PositiveThe New York Times Book Review... delivers ... Klein describes neatly and concisely what has changed in our electoral politics ... Klein has few answers...even these measures, commendable though they may be, are a very heavy lift ... In the end, he offers simply the hope that as Americans become more aware of the cancer of our current identity politics, they will make efforts to reduce their own involvement. I hope he is right. I fear that, notwithstanding his thoughtful, clear and persuasive analysis, we have a long and torturous path ahead.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewWolfe is at his best when he is discussing these writers, first-class thinkers who responded powerfully to their era’s challenges ... Certainly, there are reasons this era is different, but blaming a lack of intellectual heft both overemphasizes the importance of intellectuals and largely dismisses a pretty impressive collection of present-day thinkers ... He also does not give enough emphasis to other conditions: the rise of partisanship extending even to the courts, the importance of tribal media in a new communications age, the obliteration of campaign finance rules that had put some limits on the power of the oligarchic class. Focused as he is on ideas, Wolfe does not end with a series of reforms to reverse our decline. Instead, he offers advice to his readers: Don’t be petulant, appreciate the nobility of politics, trust experts, avoid conspiracy theorizing, don’t believe candidates who promise only good news, pay attention to political debates, be sensitive to norms and not just laws. All good ideas, but Wolfe has no road map or magic wand to get most Americans to buy into them.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewHis focus is not on bad people doing bad things, but on how incentives across a range of institutions have created corruption, with deleterious consequences for the nation ... Lessig examines a range of ways to de-corrupt institutions. As with so many efforts, it is hard to find remedies that are realistic and practical. Still, some of Lessig’s ideas are not just pie in the sky.