MixedThe Washington PostFreeman acknowledges the enormous human cost of industrialization without reducing all factories to William Blake’s 'satanic mills' ... Freeman’s determination to isolate smaller slices in the factory’s history, rather than drop an all-encompassing tome at our feet, is appreciated. Still, his time- and space-skimming approach does leave gaps. Factories have been the darling of fascists as well, and Germany’s gigantic wartime industrial machine and its peacetime descendants receive little attention. The book touches only lightly on the culture of mass consumption ... It’s an enticing and important chicken-and-egg question: Did great big factories create our insatiable material desires, or vice versa? Readers might have benefited from a fuller attempt at an answer.
RaveThe Washington Post...a brisk, captivating and expertly crafted reconstruction of a community living through a time of fear, confusion and danger ... The trick of American Fire, handled by Hesse with wonderfully casual assurance, is that she doesn’t show us her firestarters starting any fires, not until very near the end of the book. Rather, she shows us Charlie and Tonya living the noncriminal half of their lives, the normal part, and she makes us care ... There are echoes here of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood, but for all that book’s majesty and daring, something clinical and superior hovers over its prose; Hesse, using a similar reporting style, is not so ambitious or comprehensive. In the end, however, she may tell a much more human story.
RaveThe Washington PostFor an author whose work in fiction and poetry is shot through with barely disguised personal elements, it’s, like, weird to get the story in a form that purports to be free of made-up stuff. Weird — but also inventively arranged, wonderfully told and always utterly heartwrenching ... You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” is a master symphony, a rock opera, a long jazz-fusion jam on the theme of pain of all sorts: physical, psychic, cultural, tribal, economic, historical, romantic, linguistic and on and on.
RaveThe Washington PostGrann [is] canny about the stories he chases, he’s willing to go anywhere to chase them, and he’s a maestro in his ability to parcel out information at just the right clip: a hint here, a shading of meaning there, a smartly paced buildup of multiple possibilities followed by an inevitable reversal of readerly expectations or, in some cases, by a thrilling and dislocating pull of the entire narrative rug ... But inside the wildly entertaining plot strands of Killers of the Flower Moon sits an untidy and deadly serious story. To his credit, Grann seems to understand this, and when he appears, it’s not as a hero, like White, but simply as a messenger, albeit one with a Hollywood-size megaphone. Here’s hoping he continues to use it so well.
RaveThe Washington Post[Lepore] doesn’t exactly succeed in her quest to find the missing fragments of Gould’s history, but she doesn’t exactly fail, either. Rather than bursting through the door, arms laden with all of Gould’s missing composition books (wouldn’t that be dramatic?), Lepore instead takes us along as she sifts in archives and attics for the pieces that do remain, in order to discover the story underneath the story underneath the story. As she brings to bear the methods of an ace historian at the top of her game, Lepore turns Joe Gould’s Teeth into a ripping detective story. By the time she’s done (in 154 pages of text and 67 pages of notes), Lepore hasn’t truly debunked anything — though she does reveal Gould to be more of a psychopath and Mitchell to be more of a fabulist than has been previously understood — as much as she has worked to 'widen the sphere of history,' as Gould himself wrote of his Oral History.