PositiveThe NationComprehensive in scope ... Inflammation, they argue, is a sign that the body is trying to heal itself—not so much that it is under attack but that it is ailing from within. While they indulge in this metaphor perhaps a bit too much, they aren’t comparing contemporary life to, say, cancer. Rather, they’re asserting that capitalism forces people to live in a way that causes higher rates of illnesses like cancer—and that alternatives have always existed ... Puerto Rico provides Marya and Patel with particularly rich material for consideration, because the material damage of colonial capitalism can be found everywhere ... A new model is clearly in order. But when it comes to discussing how to create one, Inflamed is short on specifics. No book can be all things, and this one is ultimately a work of diagnosis more than one of prescription. At once empathetic and skeptical of power, it is bold and searching in its examination of the ways in which the human body has exhibited the consequences of a specific economic and political system. Yet Marya and Patel might have reserved more space to consider the kinds of political solutions that will be needed to abolish such a system.
RaveThe New RepublicToews did not write a play, but Women Talking often reads like one ... Whatever caricatured perceptions a reader may have of religious women—especially when those women are housewives in modest, religious dress—Toews’s novel overturns. Mennonite women come to full and fearsome life in Molotschna; brilliant and angry and quick-witted, impossible to ignore or diminish ... By fictionalizing a real horror, Toews opens the story up, and moves it from being a simple dissection of power—who wields it, and how it hides the worst sins—to an altogether more radical place. She recasts the first judgment. When God cast Adam and Eve out of Eden, he reserved special punishment for Eve. She would have pain in childbirth, he said, and she would desire her husband, but he would rule over her, always. But not this time.
PositiveThe Nation... points us to the prospects for a more rooted environmentalism that might help to bridge the gulf between middle-class liberals in urban centers and rural working-class activists.
PositivePublishers WeeklyBy giving it a distinct pedigree, [Stoll] helps readers understand why Appalachia became poor and why it has stayed that way for so long ... Stoll is not the first academic to attribute Appalachian poverty to the influence of external forces. But his work is distinct in its emphasis on the practice of enclosure and his decision to connect Appalachia’s dispossession to the material dispossessions whites inflicted on freed slaves and that empires and transnational conglomerates later inflicted on colonial and postcolonial nations ... The book’s most significant flaw occurs late in its final third, when he veers sharply from analysis to commentary. Even so, it is a minor issue. Stoll’s insights on how Appalachia became what it is today are an important corrective to flawed commentary about a much-maligned place.
PositiveThe NationHarris’s book is a methodical deconstruction of one of the stupidest tropes to degrade recent discourse. The ‘millennial’ is created, not born, as Harris shows, and as is true of all creations, her qualities reveal more about her makers than they do about her. From preschool to college to their entrance into a precarious labor market, Harris tracks how young people in America operate within a system that reinforces the economic, educational, and political injustices that sort us all into upper and underclasses … At times, Kids These Days can feel ruthless. Its injustices build, one on top of another, and wall the reader into claustrophobia. But that’s not Harris’s fault; the feeling will be familiar to anyone of a certain age … In Kids These Days, Harris doesn’t parse out many of those solutions. His book is more diagnosis than prescription.
Candida R. Moss and Joel S. Baden
PositiveThe New RepublicExhaustively reported and scrupulously fair, Bible Nation doubles as a portrait of conviction: The Greens may well be the most sincere and most-frequently misguided activists in America ... The prospect of Steve Green as Bible-thumping Indiana Jones is a tantalizing vision. But in Moss and Baden’s telling, the family have long been victims of bad actors and their own incompetence. This is where Bible Nation delves deepest, revealing the extent to which the idea that some things must be verified, rather than taken by faith, contradicts the family’s beliefs.
PositiveThe New RepublicIn this respect, his new novel, La Belle Sauvage, is not an addition to Lyra’s universe as much as it’s a clarification of themes that were first explored in His Dark Materials ...we [the readers] greet these elements of the story as welcome familiars, rather than tired points in the great constellation of Pullman’s universe, is a testament to his gifts as a storyteller. None of his characters are caricatures... Pullman is principally interested in examining how people respond when they confront some new reality of the world ... Like Pullman’s original trilogy, his new book is a bildungsroman, and it is a violent one ... In the world of La Belle Sauvage, growing up is a tragedy. It is in ours, too.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
PanThe New RepublicWhat Happened suffers from stilted prose and insipid inspirational quotes, but that is par for the course for a political memoir. The real problem with What Happened is that it is not the book it needed to be. It spends more time on descriptions of Clinton’s various post-election coping strategies, which include chardonnay and 'alternative nostril breathing,' than it does on her campaign decisions in the Midwest. It is written for her fans, in other words, and not for those who want real answers about her campaign, and who worry that the Democratic Party is learning the wrong lessons from the 2016 debacle ... In What Happened, good fought evil, and evil won. It is a fairy tale. The great tragedy is that Clinton seems to think it is true ... Hillary Clinton must have her scapegoat. Bernie Sanders did this, Bernie Sanders did that. Above all, Bernie Sanders had the audacity to be mad about American inequality.