RaveWashington Independent Review of Books... absorbing ... Sofer, with great insight and urgency, depicts Iran—especially its capital city, Tehran—during a time of political and cultural transformation, which took that country’s people in multiple directions. She soaks us in the aftermath of its 1978 revolution, including what led up to it and what followed ... The glory of Man of My Time is in the author’s ability to project a range of possibilities—causes and outcomes—and bring them alive through her glistening prose and deep humanity.
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksCenziper provides stunning insights into these Nazi hunters’ skill, accomplishments, and dedication. She retraces their steps, giving us two layers of investigation. We learn how these professionals went about their work, interpreted the law, and prevailed in their cases. We also learn quite a bit about how Cenziper did her own investigation of the investigators, making the case for our appreciation of their efforts ... Passionate, provocative, and artfully constructed, this fully engaging work of deeply humanized scholarship is a fine addition to the literature of the Holocaust and its aftermath. It could very well bring Debbie Cenziper her second Pulitzer.
E R Ramzipoor
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of Books... astonishingly original ... The novel explodes with released suspense every few pages as the chapters and their subdivisions shift from character to character, setting to setting, and obstacle to obstacle ... Ramzipoor’s control over the manipulation of time-sensitive information is splendid, and the results are magnetic ... The main narrative, energetic enough, is further enlivened by unexpected subsidiary areas of interest. Perhaps the most thought-provoking and emotionally fraught subplot has to do with the relationship between Lada and a female judge. The thread involving these lesbian lovers and the circumstances that test their various loyalties could launch a fascinating sequel ... In today’s world of propaganda wars, fake news, and alleged fake news, The Ventriloquists holds up a dazzling looking glass for those intent on silencing others and for those who will not be silenced.
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksAlyson Richman effectively shuffles between past and present, between two worlds, and between two starkly different female characters ... Through Maggie’s portrait of Yuri’s ups and downs, intelligence, and courage, Richman brings him fully to life ... Richman handles Maggie’s growth as a teacher faultlessly. If there is one element of the book that stands out, it is the respect the author shows for the teaching process and the value of skilled, committed educators ... Richman’s great strength in designing the emotional ebb and flow of her engaging narrative should win accolades and a heap of new readers.
RaveWashington Independent Review of Books\"A Wonderful Stroke of Luck, Ann Beattie’s 21st book, is extremely smart: edgy, infectious, witty, and yet a bit brooding. Some readers will wonder if it is too smart; if, in style and tone, intelligence has conquered feeling in paralyzing ways. It certainly seems to have done so in several of the major characters. They are oddly desperate and oddly blocked ... Beattie’s handling of how these classmates interact, especially how they speak to one another, is remarkable. So is the anonymous narrating voice, who seems, at times, like an invisible overseer of the teenagers’ potentialities and handicaps — like someone who may have graduated from Bailey a decade or so back and can guess what they’re going through ... A Wonderful Stroke of Luck is a powerful, nuanced study of arrested development, filled with Beattie’s sardonic wit. It is captivating, thought-provoking, and disturbing.\
Robert H. Mnookin
PositiveWashington Independent Review of BooksIn The Jewish American Paradox, Robert Mnookin puts effective lawyerly reasoning and compelling personal experience to work in service of sketching the situation of 21st-century American Jews. He plays and wrestles with large questions regarding the elements of Jewish identity and how the power of these elements has changed over time ... This strategy proves to be intellectually stimulating and colorful. Having grabbed the reader’s attention, Mnookin holds onto it with an accessible presentation about how to make both the \'American Jewish community\' and the various American Jewish communities thrive ... his arguments are well shaped and compelling ... Mnookin provides a lot of information and opinion derived from surveys that attempt to measure the pulse of Jewish identity. His analyses and projections based on these surveys are particularly useful in gauging trends that Jewish leaders need to understand and build upon. Indeed, on all the issues that he pursues, the author goes far beyond the stage of worrying. His pages are filled with common-sense suggestions, and the extensive chapter notes open windows for further contemplation.
Lynda Cohen Loigman
PositiveWashington Independent Review of Books\"Though \'melodramatic\' is often used in a pejorative sense, it’s a term that works well to characterize The Wartime Sisters. The novel has a theatrical feel, often choosing dialogue as its primary storytelling tool. The narrative certainly will stir readers’ imaginations and emotions. Moreover, Lynda Cohen Loigman’s portrait of the Springfield Armory complex as a physical and sociological environment is superb.
RaveWashington Independent Review of BooksMartin Fletcher’s Promised Land is a literary triumph of near-contemporary historical fiction that is magnetic, surprising, and should be read and enjoyed for decades to come. The scope of the book runs from 1950, shortly after Israel’s establishment as a modern nation, to 1967, a time of its most severe testing ... The author is clearly a great admirer of Israel, but he is not blind to issues that burst the bubble of unqualified boosterism. A case in point here is the inclusion of material suggesting that Israel too often provokes the Palestinians into taking hostile, deadly action for the sole purpose of being able to justify an overpowering response. Such a response might have the end goal of resetting borders. In scope, vividness, and the representation of complex, intertwined forces, Fletcher’s book is a candidate for the highest acclaim: \'masterpiece\' fits. I’m hoping for a sequel that reaches through the last third of the 20th century. As I did with Leon Uris’ Exodus, I also await the movie.
RaveWashington Independent Review of BooksSearing in its beauty, devastating in its emotional power, and dazzling in its insights, Moriel Rothman-Zecher’s debut novel, Sadness Is a White Bird, is, I promise you, like nothing you’ve ever read ... His particular vision of today’s Israel, told through a coming-of-age story, will break your heart ... The novel sings out in the distinctive voices of Rothman-Zecher’s characters, in their almost palpable presence, and in their hopes and hesitations ... Rothman-Zecher shows great skill in portraying different neighborhoods, not only in terms of physical characteristics, but also through capturing the cultural and atmospheric dimensions ... I have only praise for this poetic, distressingly original book.
Paul Seward, MD
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksThe 21 friendly, well-carved vignettes he shares in Patient Care penetrate the mysteries of emergency medicine while underscoring the compassion, skill, and dedication of the modest practitioner/author ... It’s a highly pressurized workplace in which minutes, even seconds, can mean the difference between life and death. Seward emphasizes this reality over and over. And he makes the stakes feel real for readers ... Whether describing the obstinacy of patients, the brave faces worn by worried relatives, the technical aspects of repairing injured bodies, or the elation of helping potential catastrophes end well, Paul Seward fills his attractively written narrative with authoritative detail, strong emotion, and a precise sense of place.
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksA fine medical journalist as well as an experienced physician, author Daniela Lamas exploits these two skillsets admirably. The common denominator is her talent as an interviewer. This, as well as her curiosity and her commitment to healing, has allowed Lamas to enter the harrowing emotional journeys of her patient-subjects ... Lamas has written and arranged a series of gems. The essays and characters seem almost to interact, providing a deeply textured mosaic of life before, during, and after major medical interventions. The author’s voice enriches the material and may fortify those facing their own health crises.
PositiveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksThe Cuba that DeMille portrays is colorful and has some fascinating historical landmarks, but it is at bottom a corrupt police state. Mac is stepping into a situation of extreme danger. The plan sounds solid, but it is very far from a sure thing … Mac is DeMille's narrator, and his distinctive personality and voice dominate the razor-sharp storytelling. Mac's military experiences during two tours in Afghanistan are his personal context for understanding the complex situation in which he has placed himself … The Cuban Affair is a largely satisfying performance by a seasoned pro. Nelson DeMille blends a wide range of story elements and techniques with assurance and daring. And his prose marches to a compelling drumbeat.