MixedWall Street JournalIn the book’s second part...there is very little on the credit side of the ledger ... The litany of blunders and worse inspired by this Churchill obsession is a long one for Mr. Wheatcroft ...The tone is often begrudgingly dark ... Mr. Wheatcroft denigrates Mr. Roberts, the \'pre-eminent Churchillian,\' and other historians throughout his own analysis. That’s a shame, not least because Mr. Roberts’s is a much better book—deeply researched in the archives and the product of decades of Churchill study ... Few admirers of Churchill escape Mr. Wheatcroft’s ire ... Churchill’s Shadow works best, then, if thought of as a kind of generational lament.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewThere are many pleasures to be had in this fine book, not the least of which is the vivacity of Heffer’s prose. A columnist for The Sunday Telegraph as well as a historian, he writes elegantly but punchily, combining seriousness with welcome flashes of waspishness that stop things from getting stuffy ... Heffer has little interest in debates among historians on the period, but unlike many general surveys of this kind, he does not rely just on secondary literature and makes excellent use of wide-ranging archival research. That approach gives the book a fresh perspective, although not necessarily a new one. What is striking about The Age of Decadence is that it brings us full circle to the view the late Victorians and Edwardians so often had of themselves and it echoes George Dangerfield’s seminal 1935 book The Strange Death of Liberal England, which evocatively depicted how \'by the end of 1913 Liberal England was reduced to ashes.\' In Heffer’s telling it is perhaps less ashes to ashes than an overripe piece of fruit rotting and putrefying in front of our eyes ... a masterpiece of pacing ... By the final pages, Heffer has skillfully conjured a country in chaos and heading over the edge.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...an elegant and engaging memoir ... Mr. Bailyn, born in 1922, is now approaching his century. His book is laced with personal reminiscence, told with a light touch and gentle humor ... Perhaps the book’s long section on Harvard’s noted Atlantic History Seminar will be too inside baseball for anyone other than the dwindling band of Atlantic historians. But other chapters manage to do what Mr. Bailyn has done so well for years: to illuminate the colonial period while speaking to our own ... Mr. Bailyn has been able to turn over the complexities of the American Revolution and find new and interesting things to say. And for him, every answer leads to another question ... he might have drawn from the richer variety of voices across society that are preoccupying a rising generation of historians. But then maybe this master craftsman will make those varied voices the subject of a book for his 100th birthday.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalIt hardly needs saying that Mr. Caldwell is an original and often engaging thinker. Readers of his journalism will recognize here a familiar clarity of style and forcefulness of phrasing. Sometimes he skewers antagonists with almost painful precision ... Yet for all the barbed wit on display, The Age of Entitlement is a book suffused with anger—at the system, at the movement of history. For Mr. Caldwell, the process of change has often been painful and induces sadness ... Still, we might reasonably demand a bit more from a writer of Mr. Caldwell’s distinction. It’s curious that a book subtitled America Since the Sixties doesn’t actually have much history in it. There is a vast literature both academic and commercial on this period, written from a wide variety of perspectives; and documents and oral histories are available in major libraries. Not much of this material finds its way into The Age of Entitlement ... Even the most intriguing argument can be left looking a little spare if it exists in a historical vacuum ... There is also some puzzlement about where the book ends. One doesn’t need to agree with Mr. Caldwell’s critique of President Obama to recognize it as a tour de force of rhetorical portraiture ... Mr. Caldwell ends in 2015. Such an unlikely truncation may leave readers feeling short-changed and perplexed ... raises important questions not just about the future of the republic but about Western society more generally.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalAmong the many impressive achievements of all three volumes of Mr. Moore’s splendid biography is how well he brings out the human side of such a profoundly political individual. Time and again he shows the astonishing obstacles Britain’s first woman prime minister faced ... So how will Mr. Moore’s efforts stand up in this wider debate on one of Britain’s most consequential prime ministers? Surely very well. First of all, there is the exemplary meticulousness of the research. Then there is the gracefulness of the prose, which, though formal, is rarely pompous and is an ideal match for his subject, who detested casualness. But most important, Mr. Moore has over the course of three volumes skillfully navigated the treacherous waters that are inevitable for the authorized biographer of a figure who still excites such opposite extremes of admiration and loathing. His portrait is sympathetic but not hagiographic. While he clearly admires Thatcher, her political and personal failures are not airbrushed out. Evidence is presented in a way that allows readers to draw different conclusions from his own. He clearly believes that Thatcher’s legacy, with whatever flaws there may be, will stand the test of rigorous historical scrutiny. Inevitably, over time, revisionists will present other arguments, but they will have cause to be grateful to him. For in Charles Moore this titanic figure of British history has found a biographer whose mastery of both subject and form is complete. This is a biography for the ages.
MixedThe Wall Street Journal[Evans] is especially good on Hobsbawm’s life in Berlin, but at other times the narrative flags. Of course the research is meticulous, but it can be overdetailed, dragging us into every piece of student journalism Hobsbawm wrote and the line he took at every political-society debate ... Less might have been more ...
PositiveThe Irish Times...this fine book, while not as obviously thrilling as Tony Judt’s earlier Postwar (2005), has a number of interesting things to say. Kershaw is the pre-eminent contemporary biographer of Hitler and brings a deep hinterland of scholarship to his detailed analysis. He writes elegantly and without jargon, which these days is rarer than it should be.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"[Roberts] writes elegantly, with enjoyable flashes of tartness, and is in complete command both of his sources and the vast historiography. For a book of a thousand pages, there are surprisingly no longueurs. Roberts is admiring of Churchill, but not uncritically so. Often he lays out the various debates before the reader so that we can draw different conclusions to his own ... Some may find Roberts’s emphasis on politics and war old-fashioned, indistinguishable, say, from the approach taken almost half a century ago by Henry Pelling. He is out of step with much of the best British history being written today... [blending] cultural and intellectual history with the study of high politics. But it would be foolish to say Roberts made the wrong choice. He is Thucydidean in viewing decisions about war and politics, politics and war as the crux of the matter. A life defined by politics here rightly gets a political life. All told, it must surely be the best single-volume biography of Churchill yet written.\
Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro
MixedThe Wall Street Journal...even if ultimately most readers will not be convinced by the overall argument, one of the pleasures of this thought-provoking and comprehensively researched book is that it challenges us to see the figures who thought they could outlaw war not as fools but as pragmatists whose failed idea had a surprising afterlife in the creation of the postwar world ... The case that the authors make is clever and nuanced, but it does often feel exactly like that: a case, one made by talented lawyers on behalf of a patently guilty client to a doubtful jury ... There is a vibrant optimism to The Internationalists that we can all surely hope is well-founded. But optimism can often walk hand in hand with complacency on the world stage. Underlying the case made by Ms. Hathaway and Mr. Shapiro is the premise that we are living in a continuation of the postwar world whose emergence they describe. It’s a statement of the obvious to note that the world order created in 1945 is fragmenting.
Thomas E. Ricks
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...[a] page turner written with great brio ... For Ricks, the relationship is essentially about freethinking. He doesn’t always force connections or contradictions for readers; for example, the link between Winston Smith’s job rewriting history, much as the former prime minister was doing in his own memoirs, goes undeveloped. But what comes across strongly in this highly enjoyable book is the fierce commitment of both Orwell and Churchill to critical thought.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal...the character who emerges most strongly in this wry, intriguing book is not the four Senecans, or even Thatcher, but Mr. Stothard himself ... Certainly there is a streak of poignancy, sometimes even melancholy, running through this thoughtful and unexpectedly moving memoir, but Mr. Stothard also brilliantly captures the excitement of the Thatcher years.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalThis is the story John Preston tells with tremendous energy and narrative flair in A Very English Scandal. The tone he evokes is more Kind Hearts and Coronets than The Godfather as the half-mad Thorpe and his imbecilic cronies stagger from plot to idiotic plot ... riveting.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewHis mastery of the vast range of topics with which Thatcher herself had to grapple is absolute, his marshaling of evidence adroit, and his judgments deliberate and fair. Moore remains on target to produce the definitive 'case for the defense' of this titanic and still controversial figure.