PositiveThe New York Review of BooksAs Russia has attacked, Greenberg has not been far behind, reporting on these incursions in Wired while searching for their perpetrators. Like the best true-crime writing, his narrative is both perversely entertaining and terrifying ... Greenberg leans heavily on the detective work of cybersecurity researchers scattered around the world, many of them veterans of intelligence agencies now working for private firms. Their forensic skills enable them to parse Sandworm’s ever-evolving code, reading it like a manuscript whose author keeps revising ... So far, cyberwarfare has been fundamentally psychological warfare. Cyberwar will not be.
MixedThe New York Review of BooksWhile there is something endearing about the passions stirred, they suggest the limitations of writing a book about a contemporary figure and making claims for his place among the great men and women in history. Even though Isaacson has written what appears to be a scrupulously fair chronicle of Jobs’s work life, he is in no better position than any of us to know where, in the annals of innovation, that life will end up ... Steve Jobs cried a lot. This is one of the salient facts about his subject that Isaacson reveals, and it is salient not because it shows Jobs’s emotional depth, but because it is an example of his stunted character. Steve Jobs cried when he didn’t get his own way. He was a bully, a dissembler, a cheapskate, a deadbeat dad, a manipulator, and sometimes he was very nice. Isaacson does not shy away from any of this, and the trouble is that Jobs comes across as such a repellent man, cruel even to his best friend Steve Wozniak, derisive of almost everyone, ruthless to people who thought they were his friends, indifferent to his daughters, that the book is often hard to read.
PositiveThe New York Review of Books... [a] loving encomium to libraries everywhere ... achieves on paper what Wiseman does on film: by acquainting the reader with the library’s actual infrastructure, she reveals why it is such a valuable community resource and a perfect example of what Klinenberg is talking about when he extols the benefits of social infrastructure.
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book Review…[a] charming novel disguised as a book of short stories … In Segal’s world, a world where domestic tragedies occur against the backdrop of historic human cruelty, people tend to behave badly not out of a perverted sense of ambition or power but from a deep need for attachment and belonging. And so it’s crucial that the book doesn’t move in a straight line … Lore Segal is an astute and gentle observer, and Ilka Weisz (née Weissnix), for worse and for better, has made it through another of her books. It’s hard not to wonder what will become of her now.
PositiveThe New York Review of BooksFate would seem to have been very good to the retired judge, Jemubhai Patel, who slipped into the Indian Civil Service after abysmally low exam results, thanks to the prop of Indianization … It is to Desai’s credit that, despite his unremitting cruelties, the judge does not seem monstrous, only weak and pathetic. She achieves this not through empathy, or even sympathy—the man remains reprehensible throughout—but by animating politics and making it the villain … This is a catalog of defeats, and Desai is unwilling to let anyone off the hook, especially the reader, who is denied that other refuge of moral laziness: the possibility of sudden, enlightened character transformation … It is a rare novel that succeeds when every supposedly good idea in it fails, but Desai is a gorgeous writer, capable of pulling us along on a raft of sensuous images that are often beautiful, not because what they describe are inherently so, but because she has shown their naked truth.
Edward Jay Epstein
PanThe NationThis is a book long on conjecture, innuendo, and unsubstantiated claims; it reads like an adrenalized addendum to the discredited House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence report on Snowden ... There’s only one problem with this explanation: As Epstein himself points out, “no witting accomplice was ever identified” by the FBI, which is a cagey way of saying that the 'witting accomplice' theory is specious. Rather than putting it completely to rest, however, Epstein burrows in further ... Similarly, one could point out all the assertions that have no basis in fact, that ignore known evidence, stretch the truth, or quote people who are making stuff up. But this would require quoting much of the book ... In the end, and quite ironically, there is something retrograde about a book claiming that Edward Snowden is essentially a tool of the Russians, when there’s no question that the same could be said of the current American president and a number of his cabinet members and advisers.