PositiveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)... insightful ... Much of Men on Horseback’s appeal lies in its wonderful cast of characters ... Charisma, as Bell reminds us, is relational: it is both about the heroic qualities of individuals, and the myriad ways in which these are assimilated and celebrated by their admirers. Men on Horseback offers fascinating glimpses of this dialectic at work ... Bell’s attention to the literary aspects of the charismatic leaders’ legends highlights the significance of a particular genre of heroic narrative, celebrating the extraordinary virtues of Great Men ... Men on Horseback is somewhat more elusive when it comes to the more ethnographic sources of the different leaders’ charisma ... Men on Horseback asserts from the outset that the relationship between charismatic leadership and democracy is \'symbiotic,\' and that modern democratic charisma acquired its essential features between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Yet by the end of the book Bell seems less certain, stressing that this period did not witness the emergence of stable democratic institutions, and that the term itself was mostly deployed pejoratively rather than positively.
Edouard Louis, Trans. by Lorin Stein
PositiveThe Times Literary SupplementLouis’s writing is captivating in its incisiveness and its crisp, parsimonious style. He draws on his personal experiences to evoke a vivid range of sentiments, such as absence, grief, humiliation, helplessness and anger. He makes effective use of allusion, too: he thus reinforces the anonymous, fleeting quality of his father’s life by not giving him a name, and referring to the place where he lives as an \'ugly northern town\' ... by the end of the book, for reasons which are not made entirely clear, redemption has occurred: reconciled with his son, his father renounces his racism and even enquires about the man Louis loves.