PositiveThe Washington PostCarol Leonnig offers a powerful antidote to Hollywood fantasies ... Leonnig...is thorough and unsparing in her account. Page by page and detail by implacable detail, she walks us through a catalogue of Secret Service blunders ... Zero Fail isn’t an easy read: Weighing in at nearly 500 pages of text, its sheer exhaustiveness is at times exhausting, and Leonnig struggles to bring life to what can feel like an unending chronicle of failures and missteps. There are simply too many characters jostling for attention in a book that covers more than six decades, and even Leonnig’s skillful writing can’t quite overcome the numbing impact of so much detail. The author is also curiously reluctant to judge most of the characters in her narrative; her effort to humanize even the most badly behaved and incompetent agents has an oddly flattening effect, leaving readers with no clear villains to blame for the Secret Service’s failings and no clear heroes to admire, either ... an important book, one that will ruffle feathers in need of ruffling and that will be useful to legislators, policymakers and historians alike.
MixedThe Washington Post... we knew all this already, didn’t we? ... Rage offers some fresh details and confirmation of old assumptions, but little that is likely to surprise anyone or change any minds. These incidents have lost their power to shock. What makes the book noteworthy is Woodward’s sad and subtle documentation of the ego, cowardice and self-delusion that, over and over, lead intelligent people to remain silent in the face of Trumpian outrages ... Rage was written in a hurry, and at times it shows ... Still, Woodward’s prose offers readers that delicious, vicarious sense of being an insider, right there in the room with Bob, a witness to presidential sulks and boasts ... If Rage breaks little ground, Woodward nonetheless eventually becomes the favored recipient of the ultimate nugget of Trumpian philosophy ... \'\'Want to know something? Everything’s mine. You know, everything is mine.\'
Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
MixedThe Washington PostThe personal stories in Tightrope are, variously, wrenching and inspiring ... But...by its final chapter, Tightrope turns into a laundry list of standard liberal policy recommendations. America, Kristof and WuDunn say, must take steps to ensure high-quality early-childhood programs, universal health-care coverage, higher minimum wages and stronger labor unions, for instance. On these points, conservatives are unlikely to be persuaded, and liberals are unlikely to require persuasion ... Tightrope also slides over some of the toughest issues it raises ... Tightrope is earnest and oddly endearing, but often slightly muddled; the authors want to speak to conservatives as well as liberals, but they can’t quite pull off their own balancing act.
MixedThe Washington Post... a merciless take on modern feminism, woke-ness and cancel culture ... offers plenty of Daum’s trademark zingers ... But Daum’s book is messy; it meanders from topic to topic, and one-liners often stand in for real analysis. Daum spends little time contemplating the kinds of exclusion, injustice and pain that may lie behind the millennial intolerance she decries, and she offers no way forward beyond urging \'empathy\' for those \'grappling with the confusions of their own doctrines\' ... Too often the book gets bogged down in the same kind of narcissistic palaver Daum derides ... There isn’t much Gen X toughness on display here, and Daum’s detours into bildungsroman don’t enhance her critique of the modern left ... Daum isn’t wrong to worry about the ways in which \'social-justice activism [is] eating itself,\' but her book ultimately devolves into a chronicle of navel-gazing — the kind that can only be experienced by those with a bit too much time on their hands, and a bit too much (dare I say) \'privilege\' ... It’s particularly hard to know what to make of The Problem with Everything, because Daum ultimately seems to disavow part of her own argument ... \'To be human is to be confused,\' Daum opines — but a bit more clarity would have been welcome in what could have been a truly audacious cultural critique.
RaveThe Washington Post\"a book that is wrenching, terrible, sometimes numbing, sometimes almost physically painful to read. You want to turn away, put the book down: Enough, no more! But you can’t, because after 40-plus years, the very least we owe Woodfox is attention to his story, however agonizing we find it ... [Woodfox’s] relentless account of four decades of injustice, imprisonment and brutality is difficult to read and difficult to write about — its moral power is so overwhelming. Every summary phrase that comes to mind is a cliche: \'a triumph of the human spirit,\' \'a wholesale indictment of mass incarceration and the American criminal justice system,\' \'inspiring,\' \'a call to arms.\' But in Woodfox’s case, the cliches all ring true ... Woodfox’s story makes uncomfortable reading, which is as it should be. Solitary should make every reader writhe with shame and ask: What am I going to do to help change this?\
PositiveThe Washington PostRonan Farrow’s War on Peace: The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence is more an elegy than a work of journalism, more a work of journalism than a history of diplomacy, and more a history than a sustained analysis of the value and effect of U.S. diplomacy ... Although War on Peace doesn’t fully achieve its broadest ambitions, it offers lively writing, astute commentary and plenty of great stories, laced through with passion and outrage ... If it doesn’t entirely hang together as an argument, it still makes for enjoyable and occasionally compulsive reading: Farrow is a natural storyteller, and his empathy and imagination breathe life even into the endless, awkward Thanksgiving dinner that constitutes diplomacy. In the end, War on Peace is much like Farrow’s characterization of diplomacy itself: rich, messy and imperfect, but ultimately, more than worth it.
MixedThe Washington PostChollet’s measured prose doesn’t hide his passionate conviction that President Obama has been a victim of demagogic politics ... The Long Game is an extended but not wholly persuasive effort to prove the critics wrong ... Chollet is an earnest and intelligent defender of the president he so clearly admires, but he doesn’t have much good material to work with ... But Chollet never really grapples with the critiques of Obama’s foreign policy that come from within his own party ... All the same, there’s something rather poignant about The Long Game, which is imbued with a subtle undertone of mourning.