MixedThe Wall Street JournalThe Bomber Mafia is a remarkable audiobook, and a work of art. Mr. Gladwell has a mesmerizing voice and has assembled his various materials with rare skill: Technical explanations, introductions of the main characters (including Norden, Hansell and LeMay), quotes from the airmen, and interviews with later historians all flow together naturally ... Reading The Bomber Mafia as a plain old history book, it has to be said, takes away a bit of this magic. The professional historian slows down to check Mr. Gladwell’s limited notes, and some of the atmosphere of the spoken word is lost. There are also gaps in his account (for instance, the RAF Bomber Command he is so quick to dismiss actually did attempt careful bombing, until clouds and the Luftwaffe forced it also to alter its tactics). Then there is the so, so brief mention of the atomic bomb in this book ... The ironies in this wonderful book continue to the bitter end.
RaveWall Street JournalThere’s a lot of this saga in Mr. Allport’s 450-page account—how could there not be?—but as one turns again and again to the evidence on offer in the endnotes (more than 60 pages of them), one has a growing sense that Britain at Bay is more than that—in fact, that it might be the single best examination of British politics, society and strategy in these four years that has ever been written. I use the word \'examination\' here because the book is much more than a fine narrative account of great personalities and surface actions, of the history of events. It reaches to deeper levels—of geography and grand strategy, and wartime logistics, of shipping logistics and troop deployments ... Mr. Allport goes further than telling the story of a people \'at bay\' when he switches to an analysis of the geopolitical, military and industrial-production aspects of the war ... Moreover, he does all this with a rare verbal fluency, often with irony, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, as when he mocks the legendary Royal Air Force leader Lord Trenchard for his May 1941 assertion that the oppressed German nation never joked while in their bomb shelters as the British did and would collapse soon after aerial bombing was intensified ... Britain at Bay is beautifully written, thoroughly researched and cleverly presented. It is a handsome book, too, with great photographs and maps.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... no historian before Mr. Wertheim has shown in such detail how a small, networked bunch of Ivy League-elite public intellectuals and strategists ould step in and use the shock of France’s fall to articulate their visions of the path forward for the American Republic from their posts at such organizations as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Yale Institute for International Studies and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. Acting as the State Department’s virtual \'think tank\' for the country’s future, the CFR and the many planning sub-groups it spawned stepped forward to convince important senators, the broader Congress, the American newspapers and the public at large that their nation should now assume the many burdens of global leadership ... a study in American foreign-policy thinking, not in the actual wielding and making of American power. This is intellectual history, in the broadest sense of that term .. Mr. Wertheim’s book has added another piece—a welcome and important one—to the story of the establishment of the unrivalled U.S. global influence as World War II unfolded. It explains, better than any previous work, why and how all those interwar reservations about America’s stepping to the center of the world stage were suppressed, and why the many different strands of strategic thought, realism and internationalism, came to agree that \'America as No. 1\' was a jolly good thing, and that the rest of the world needed—and indeed was going to get—U.S. global leadership ... instructive reading indeed.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal[Kaplan] distinguishes himself with tight, journalistic accounts of what one might term the \'high nuclear politics\' of D.C. policy makers, military men, public intellectuals and government officials, especially as they quarreled behind closed doors. Mr. Kaplan pulls together tales from candid interviews with participants, while also drawing on declassified (and often eye-popping) documents from presidential libraries, Department of Defense files and State Department records. His notes on sources—there is, alas, no bibliography—pay little attention to scholarly monographs on U.S. foreign and nuclear policy. Mr. Kaplan’s forte is with the primary stuff, not the secondary literature ... The author is a punchy and sometimes even graceful stylist, and very strong on recreated dialogue ... thus unfolds at a speedy pace, and includes rather little on the Truman-Eisenhower period, as if the author is keen to get forward ... Mr. Kaplan’s account is particularly good, if not original, in its treatment of President Kennedy’s determination to control the military hawks, and very good indeed on JFK’s willingness to cut a secret compromise deal with Nikita Khrushchev ... A reliance on self-interested witnesses is the peril of any history based on them, and there is no doubt the early chapters of The Bomb read as more solid, and more authoritative, than the later ones ... a work that should make thoughtful readers even more thoughtful. But it is not a book for the faint of heart.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Benfey, who clearly enjoyed the considerable research he put into this book, recounts the family’s time in New England rather well, including the unhappy end to the Kiplings’ American sojourn a few years later ... These years were joyous and then dire ones for Kipling, and Mr. Benfey recounts it all with a fine touch ... It has to be said, though, that both the subtitle and the title of Mr. Benfey’s book detract from his worthwhile effort. \'If\' may be a nifty account of this period in the famous writer’s life, but this is hardly an \'untold story.\'
RaveThe Wall Street Journal\"As Benn Steil details in his brilliant book The Marshall Plan, the Soviets had shown ever-greater intransigence throughout 1946 and 1947 in regard to all proposals for the economic rebuilding of Europe and the political reconstitution of the defeated Germany … Mr. Steil’s is by far the best study yet, because it is so wise and so balanced in its judgments, including, for example, its candid discussion on how much the plan truly boosted the economies of the many recipients … The book has an invaluable ‘Cast of Characters,’ a daunting bibliography and a huge 74 pages of notes. It’s quite a tribute it all reads so well.\
RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Lowe, a British historian undaunted by the scope of his topic, seeks to distill it all in this epic study ...24 chapters range across each continent and delve into the larger themes with great verve, reflecting Mr. Lowe’s own pungent, very personal opinions about everything... Each subsection, each swirling chapter, is given a human face by the author in the form of an individual’s experience... Mr. Lowe is determined to show us that this war was the greatest thing in History ... By virtue of its ambition; the variety of its content; its author’s talent in giving us both 'large' History and smaller and anecdotal tales; and an easy narrative resting on wide-ranging scholarship, The Fear and the Freedom can justly claim to be one of the best, most useful books on World War II to have emerged in the past decade.
PositiveThe Washington Post...Olson’s book is the first to weave this all together. A passionate anglophile and London-lover, Olson is thrilled by the individual heroism, spunk and sheer ingenuity of so many of these survivor organizations, and marvels at the efforts each made in the common struggle. It’s a well-written and well-illustrated book, and deeply researched ... It’s a lovely story, fondly told by Olson. It is true that she often makes the various wartime contributions weightier than they actually were. And she pushes it too much by hinting that a future European union came out of this wartime bonding. She is sad — which is also true of this reviewer — that much of the tale is now lost and, worse still, that in this age of Brexit, an ignorant nationalism has replaced this earlier generosity and steadfastness.