PositiveThe Times (UK)Rachman has been writing about autocratic rule for many years and his chapters sometimes read like expanded columns. But they always prompt deeper thought about how the West should be dealing with the challenge ... Perhaps Rachman should have paid more attention to these service industries. The reputation-washers and the palace architects, the libel and divorce lawyers. They’re doing more than making a fast buck, they are often helping crooked leaders to swindle their subjects ... Rachman wrote his lucid, well-argued book before Putin’s supposed blitzkrieg against Ukraine. The prospect that Putin could, if not lose, then at least be damaged by that war actually suggests an alternative, more upbeat conclusion than the one Rachman offers.
PositiveThe Times (UK)...[a] chilling, indignant narrative ... Roger Moorhouse is well equipped to write this book ... All Poles know that their September war — and of course the many subsequent years of occupation, resistance and exile — was no side-show. Now Moorhouse has expertly laid bare this simple truth: that when two totalitarian regimes make common cause, everyone in their immediate neighbourhood is likely to be trampled underfoot.
PositiveThe Times (UK)There were plenty of other edgy moments as the superpowers jostled for position. Most have been recorded, but Iain MacGregor makes them vivid again with lengthy interviews and a fund of anecdotes. His narrative follows a tidy arc from the construction of the wall, starting in August 1961, to its fall in November 1989, yet there has never been anything neat about Berlin, neither its division nor its unification ... That is the strength of this often captivating book; it is political history told through the eyes of men in uniform ... MacGregor should have interviewed more spies ... There’s plenty that could have been said too about the moral ambiguity of the professional people-smugglers. And although it was technically out of the scope of a book that ends in November 1989, MacGregor could have said something about the precarious state of the Russian garrisons stranded in East Germany after the collapse of the Soviet Union ... However, these are quibbles. MacGregor has put together a lively, evocative account of the life and death of the world’s most notorious wall. In capturing the essence of the old Cold War he may just have helped us to understand a bit more about the new one.
RaveThe Times (UK)Our Man is a great, exuberant read, gossipy and thoughtful ... There is a brutal cataloguing of [Holbrooke\'s] personal weaknesses, his swagger, the lack of introspection, his emotional neediness. Nobility is there too ... George Packer makes out of Holbrooke a kind of Philip Roth hero ... Packer displays his talents as a master of narrative reconstruction ... What emerges is...an extraordinary life, lived to its limits.
Ernst Jünger, Trans. by Thomas S. Hansen and Abby J. Hansen
MixedThe TimesJünger details battlefield atrocities, but the book also raises universal questions. Is tyrannicide justified? When does a man really come of age? At what point does a human become a mere beast? ... although his diary strives for aesthetic heights it also betrays some hormonal chaos. Women, masked by pseudonyms, who weave in and out of the text, were almost certainly mistresses ... He seemed to be excited by this mix of sex and war ... This combination of living the life of a flaneur, interspersed with a record of the many books that he read, his use of spare moments to hunt down beetles for his collection, his detailed analysis of his dreams, seems at times to squeeze out real life. \'Mein Gott!\' you want to shout, have you forgotten there’s a war on? ... The diaries are full of curiosity, the enduring enthusiasm of an autodidact, but they are not suffused with regret, or indeed with warmth.
Jean-Christophe Brisard and Lana Parshina
PositiveThe TimesThe book blurb describes it predictably as resembling a thriller. In fact, it is in large part an exercise in the kind of diversionary narrative found in color supplement writing, a bulking up of irrelevant detail to mask the thinness of the actual investigative results. Yet the story is worth retelling. The book offers an important Russian perspective and its historical detours makes some useful points ... As a witness to this Russian scramble to identify Hitler, [Memoirs of a Wartime Interpreter author Yelena] Rzhevskaya, whose account is published for the first time in English, is excellent. Unadorned, clear-eyed, precise, she describes how Russian investigators tracked down Hitler’s dental surgery, then the dental nurse who saw to Hitler and Braun’s teeth ... The reconstruction in The Death of Hitler is familiar, but fluent, evocative and when it steers clear of authorial intervention rather gripping.
John Lewis Gaddis
RaveThe Times (UK)...an extraordinary treatise on the need to teach the principles of sound strategy to today’s leaders ... a kind of meta-textbook, an account of how his instruction of successive generations of military officers can in turn train us to think strategically ... Gaddis grasps that writing on strategy has to span world literature and popular culture ... It is a book that cares about liberty, choice and a moral compass, that warns against the hubris of an angry Bonaparte on the turn in a Russian winter, against leaders who do not listen or learn. A training manual for our troubled times.