RaveWashington Monthly... a serious study of a SEAL unit in crisis as it fought ISIS in Mosul, Iraq ... credible ... This book brims with such striking quotations, mainly because Philipps was able to read a trove of some 6,000 texts written by Gallagher and 2,300 others sent by members of his platoon ... it’s time for the military to take stock of everything that went wrong. That should include making Alpha—one of the most important books to come out of the Iraq War (as I wrote in a blurb for it)—required reading in every service academy.
PanThe New York Times Book ReviewI came away unpersuaded. In this work Cervantes engages in a kind of sleight of hand, I believe, by mentioning the enslavement of Indigenous peoples but never really focusing on it. Ultimately, the conquistadors don’t really seem to me very different from the Vikings. They were out to raid, to enslave people and to steal whatever they could carry away, usually in the form of gold, silver and precious stones. And they wrangled with one another for those treasures as well as for land and power.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewA kind of love song to the United States Air Force, which is surprising, because it is the least romantic of our armed services, with leaders who focus on technology, not tradition ... One of Gladwell’s skills is enabling us to see the world through the eyes of his subjects. To most people, a city park is a grace note, a green space that makes urban life more livable ... A novelty of this book is that Gladwell says it began as an audiobook and then became a written one, reversing the usual process ... Gladwell is a wonderful storyteller.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewJessica Donati presents a memorable but choppy portrait of Americans fighting in Afghanistan over the last six years, which is notable because there have been few good accounts of the war there ... Donati...does an especially good job at portraying the combat in Kunduz in October 2015 ... Over all, Donati tells a confused but important story about limited warfare. The American government spends a lot of money and loses only a few soldiers, but it gains little ... for those caught up in the war on the ground, civilians and combatants alike, the risks and costs are huge.
RaveNew York Times Book ReviewAcademic histories are all very well, but at times it is a pleasure to sit back and wallow in an old-school military tale of flinty-eyed men doing battle ...Holland fortifies his style with dollops of British slang ... As Johnson demonstrates, war is almost always more complex than we remember it. Mocking the academic style of history is easy, especially its awkward cant, but in the end, contemporary scholars are doing a good job of illuminating the forgotten intricacies of nationality, ideology, race and gender in wartime.
RaveForeign PolicyReconstruction was the great challenge of U.S. Grant’s two terms as president, and the story fills the second half of Ron Chernow’s new and consequential biography of Grant, easily the most enigmatic and underrated of all U.S. presidents ... This is not about the war but about Grant, about his steady growth in military command and, above all, his instinctive grasp of the politics behind the war when most Union commanders hadn’t a clue ... Chernow’s more intimate biography of Grant as politician is by far more fascinating than the better-known story of Grant as soldier ... Although other Grant histories like Ronald White’s American Ulysses are beginning to hit the bookstands, Chernow’s biography gives us a deep look into this complicated but straightforward man, and into a troubled time in our history that still echoes today.
James Lee McDonough
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewMcDonough is especially good in showing the role that Sherman played in supporting Grant both militarily and emotionally. The deep trust that grew between the two became a major asset to the Union, especially when they were conducting the two major campaigns of 1864-65, with Sherman in the southeast and Grant in Virginia. McDonough is at his best in portraying Sherman’s military qualities ... Oddly, for a book of epic scale, McDonough’s recounting of Sherman’s march in November and December 1864 is a bit flat, less colorful than his lively earlier depictions of Sherman’s emergence as a leader at the battle of Shiloh and in battles for Atlanta.