RaveThe New Republic... excellent ... Nagorski mixes the pacing of a historical thriller (think Alan Furst, but nonfiction, and starring therapists instead of spies) with a meditation on the limits of insight and what it means to be attached to a specific place and to live in a given moment in time. He shows Freud—and, more crucially, those around him—navigating the gaps between abstract awareness of danger and personal decisiveness, against the backdrop of historical events unfolding in real time. The result is hard to put down, poignant, and distressingly timely. Because if Freud himself, so attuned to the dark undercurrents of human behavior and so critical of the false security offered by our wishful illusions, proved unable to think clearly even as his country became unrecognizable around him and as nightmare after nightmare became real, what are our chances now? ... Nagorski keeps the pacing tight and, without spoiling too much, narrates moments rich in incident and detail.
PositiveThe New RepublicRosa Brooks’s Tangled Up in Blue: Policing the American City promises without question to be the cop memoir for the late 2010s and early 2020s. An accomplished scholar, journalist, and author who has moved in the loftiest legal, nonprofit, and foreign policy circles, Brooks brings a distinctive perspective to the police memoir genre, which boasts few women’s voices to begin with ... As an account of what policing can be like for police themselves, Tangled Up in Blue is singularly frank, and its depictions of the civilians who encounter police possess a rare mixture of empathy, self-consciousness, and well-hedged appeals to context. But Brooks’s book is also about more than just policing as an institution, or even her own experiences as a cop: It is a deeply personal family memoir, and a meditation on questions of race, class, gender, and family inheritances. Some readers may find it enthralling; others may find it distasteful. Whatever the case, it is certainly revealing, sometimes painfully so ... Tangled Up in Blue...is at once constrained yet layered in its focus: It is a story about policing made up of stories of policing, collected by someone who came to policing as part of her own personal story ...Tangled Up in Blue delivers aplenty. Brooks is an excellent narrator with a keen eye for detail, and she embraces with gusto the access her new gig gives her ... Brooks does not look away. Throughout, she is unsparing in her descriptions of how cops are trained, how they relate to one another, and what the job entails ... Brooks’s reflections on police training are astute ... Brooks, to her credit, seems far more honest about her reasons than most, and her book is revealing. It would be reductive to say that Brooks simply uses the streets of Washington’s poorest neighborhood and the traumas of its denizens as stages and props ... It would be simplistic also to see this book as just a giant plug for the new \'Innovative Policing Program\' at Georgetown that Brooks founded ... But it would also be naïve to see Tangled Up in Blue as not these things.
RaveThe New Republic... simultaneously hilarious, poignant, and deeply unsettling ... In a United States wracked by virus, mounting climate change, and ruthless corporate pillaging and governmental deregulation, the lessons from one tiny New Hampshire town are stark indeed ... Combining wry description with evocative bits of scientific fact, Hongoltz-Hetling’s portrayal of the bears moves from comical if foreboding to downright terrifying.
MixedBookforum... [an] important new book ... as a veteran journalist who has covered the association for years, [Smyth] has gleaned abundant material, from interviews to tax filings to court briefs to archives of the organization’s (numerous) magazines. The fact that no other popular history has ever been written by anyone not on the NRA’s payroll means that Smyth’s book is a worthwhile intervention; it also means that the book’s shortcomings and unevenness are worth studying ... Smyth documents the NRA’s early years, rich in paradox and incident, with verve ... As a seasoned investigative journalist, Smyth is particularly good at following the money. He skillfully exposes how NRA funds have been used to prop up ersatz advocacy groups and think tanks ... For all the excellent work it does at dismantling the NRA’s myths about itself, and at laying out the biographies of some of its key modern players, Smyth’s book has some striking blind spots ... A bigger issue, though not unique to Smyth’s book, is the tendency to see the NRA as singularly powerful and to overlook its position within a broader network of conservative organizations ... Smyth’s combination of eagle-eyed precision and odd credulity is even more disappointing when it comes to the recently exposed interactions between the NRA’s leadership and shadowy figures in a so-called \'gun rights\' movement in Russia ... But the gaps in his history underscore the key problem of thinking about the organization, which is far bigger than Smyth’s book. The NRA arguably looms larger than life in the American consciousness because it also somehow gives America back, refracted and intensified, to itself.
RaveThe New Republic... brilliant ... [Dunbar-Ortiz’s] analysis, erudite and unrelenting, exposes blind spots not just among conservatives, but, crucially, among liberals as well ... at times, in such a short but information-packed book, accounts of such continuities may feel schematic; but at others, they can feel revelatory...Throughout, and even when uneven, her narrative is devastating ... As a portrait of the deepest structures of American violence, Loaded is an indispensable book.
Pann+1It’s not just that Woodward’s self-consciously Serious approach to Serious People sputters and short-circuits when confronted with the ludicrously Unserious figure of Donald Trump himself ... Fear showcases Woodward in his most abject and pathetic role as what Christopher Hitchens, who also saw him for what he was, called a \'stenographer to power\' ... Fear is to Woodward’s previous oeuvre of political pornography what Fifty Shades of Grey is to Twilight: vampiric fan-fiction repackaged as middlebrow smut ... Woodward proceeds with a halting, ponderous seriousness ... Woodward has never been a very good writer, but his literary failures have never been more apparent than in Fear, where the mismatch between the prose and the protagonists is almost avant-garde. Many sentences are overwrought to the point of being nonsensical ... The abundance of such mediocre writing poses more than merely aesthetic problems. Throughout the book, Woodward does not clearly or consistently distinguish between when he is quoting people, paraphrasing them, or editorializing ... It’s hard to decide what’s worse about this dialogue—its complete implausibility or its cheesiness, which would get its author banned from a fan fiction message board ... If the \'insider’s inside story\' promised by Woodward’s earlier presidential books had any value, it was strictly as a response to scarcity: before social media ... But now everything is predigested, and what’s missing is precisely what Fear lacks: deep historical context, narratives that place the human costs of Trump’s actions above his rhetoric ... For now, all we have are the books we don’t need.
RaveThe New RepublicA century ago...hunting exploits made Roosevelt the toast of the American press—a reaction that is hard to understand today, when social attitudes toward trophy hunting have sharply reversed. As for attitudes toward hunting more generally, the picture is complicated: Some 70 percent of Americans say they approve of it, but only a small proportion now regularly do it themselves ... In his lively and compelling book...Philip Dray acknowledges these tensions, deepening and complicating them by putting them in historical context. His book offers a capacious and erudite history of the practice and meanings of hunting in American life ... Written with sensitivity and bracketed judgment, it describes a culture and asks questions, telling a story full of paradoxes and nuance ... Any story of whites hunting in America, whatever their class or ethnicity, is also story of native communities being ethnically cleansed from that same territory. Dray does not hesitate to remind the reader of this fact repeatedly ... As Dray so powerfully demonstrates, debates over conservation, like debates over hunting, have always illuminated certain core contradictions in American culture: tensions between the urban and rural, between the natural world and capitalist extraction, between elites and the general populace ... As an unrivaled history, and an admirably crafted bid to deepen dialogue between groups of Americans who might otherwise view one another as alien or out of touch, Dray’s Fair Chase is a vital intervention.
RaveThe NationMeticulously researched and powerfully argued, Belew’s book isn’t only a definitive history of white-racist violence in late-20th-century America, but also a rigorous meditation on the relationship between American militarism abroad and extremism at home, with distressing implications for the United States in 2018 and beyond ... Bring the War Home is a grim and sobering read—and, for many, it may arrive as a much-needed and troubling revelation: The sheer size of white-power extremism since Vietnam is frightening ... The power of Belew’s book comes, in part, from the fact that it reveals a story about white-racist violence that we should all already know ... Now, in 2018, coming up on nearly two decades of an apparently endless War on Terror, and with white-power violence prominent in our headlines once again, forcing a more serious reckoning is imperative—and Belew’s vital intervention is a necessary step toward that end.
Positiven+1Fire and Fury does contain plenty of palace intrigue and compromising stories, but its promised revelations are not really revelations at all. The fundamental scandal, the book’s centerpiece truth—that the President is breathtakingly unfit, and his administration is a slow-motion train wreck—has been obvious all along ... And yet while this state of affairs, experienced digitally, 24/7, entails a vertiginous dysphoria, a book like Fire and Fury, precisely because it is a book, circumvents our hypertrophied circuit of stimulus-response, and leaves the reader with a much more sustained, depressing, and horrified outlook ... Bannon is Wolff's most consequential and consistent source, and at times Fire and Fury reads more like a book about him than a book about the President of the United States and his White House ... Wolff’s treatment of Bannon feels at once too much and insufficient, especially when it comes to the question of Bannon’s racism, which Wolff handles with too much deference. But it is also devastating. Wolff is at his best as a journalist when he is documenting the interpersonal dynamics of wealth—and how the gravitational pull of money shapes the expectations and actions of the rich and their hangers-on ... laid out in book-length prose, rather than telegraphed in 140 or 280-character bursts, the impact is like the distancing effect in Brechtian theater: we see what’s always been in front of us, but in a queasy new perspective and dilated temporality.