PositiveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksIn decades to come, what political and media junkies may most recall about Peril — aside from its disturbing details about Trump — is that it defines Costa as Woodward’s successor ... Costa is at least as capable a reporter as Woodward was at 35. Readers don’t need the demeaning sales pitch. The book is proof of the pudding.
RaveThe Washington Independent Review of Books... an enjoyable, reliable beach read. That’s a compliment, not a slam. Beach read is shorthand for an absorbing page-turner you can hardly bring yourself to put down. So what if, two months and a dozen books later, maybe you only recall its outline — and that you really liked it? You\'d prefer to read Proust all the time? ... Leavitt has a happy knack for making an unusual circumstance believable and her characters flawed, which is to say, they quickly become people we care about ... A brief pause here to observe that, six months ago, I would have rolled my eyes at this plot device. Too much, I would have said. Just not believable. Oh, the difference a global pandemic makes. The book and real life have flipped places. Falling into a coma isn’t that unusual. (It happened to the author in real life.) All sorts of medical emergencies can trigger one. What we’re living through today is what isn’t believable. Being scared to go grocery shopping, not being able to tell a bank robber from a dental hygienist, and that fellow in the White House suggesting we all might benefit from drinking bleach or sleeping with a UV light down our gullets ... As for the book’s conclusion, enough to say, it’s sufficiently satisfying. Even though we see it coming, it doesn’t feel manipulative, which is a serious skill. In fact, I can stretch enough to say With or Without You has a happy ending ... We need those right now.
PositiveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksBolton is not a graceful writer, but he’s a clear, competent one and, occasionally, a witty one. Of course, the telling is slanted toward what Bolton thinks should have happened, and oh the pity it didn’t. No sin in that. Such defines the genre ... Although Bolton’s exasperation often is obvious, there’s relatively little of the score-settling almost requisite to political memoirs ... He is a master at pointing out inadvertently funny or ironic situations without saying, \'Can you believe this? ... Bolton is wicked smart and blessed with a prodigious memory. Unfortunately for readers, he also is like the storytelling uncle who drifts off into so much backstory and trivia that you want to hurl the gravy boat at his head ... But all those layers do pack a wallop. What is most striking about The Room Where It Happened is how the weight and volume of what he tells us, the names of people present, what they said, what President Trump and his highest-ranking minions said and did, what happened as a result — witness multiple reports here and abroad — eventually outrun Bolton’s own bona fides ... Whether or not Bolton is motivated by self-justification, and whether you were a hawk or a dove when you picked up the book, become irrelevant ... can be riveting. Most often, it is not. With the sad weight of the content, plus no \'he said\' and \'she observed\' quotations to give the eye relief as long, grey paragraphs march across the pages, there were times I pushed myself to keep reading ... But worth it? You bet. Of all the Trump-era tell-alls to date, this one is a gut punch.