MixedNew York Times Book ReviewHis latest book is a slim cri de coeur about the rot at the base of his biographical foundations. McKibben finds his country, his religion and the suburban lifestyle of his youth to be so flawed that he’s ready to divorce much of his past ... This memoir reads like an extended argument against the idea — oft cited by Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama, among others — that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice ... Anyone not in McKibben’s camp seems unlikely to join if the takeaway message is: Your country, your religion and your neighborhood all suck ... Throughout the book, McKibben seems defensive in his national and personal teardown ... His solutions, though no less sincerely offered than his mea culpas, seem like quick add-ons.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewMooallem does a nice job of showing the domino of damage in cinematic slow motion — the crevasses opening in city streets, the land slinking and sliding, the indiscriminate collapse of homes of both the rich and the poor. And he’s astute in explaining the science ... He also brings to life a half-dozen or so ordinary people who acted in extraordinary ways ... this is a very strange book ... The main problem with This Is Chance! is that it fails to rise to the drama of the event. That would be fine if the character drama played out in a satisfying way. But here it comes up short as well. The book moves about in time, jumping ahead and then back again. It’s one thing to leap off the chronological ladder, quite another to leave the reader confused or — worse — caring less about people in the story ... All due respect to my fellow scribe, a bright and resourceful writer, but I wanted more of Genie Chance and less of her chronicler.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIn John Taliaferro’s book, we finally have an exhaustively detailed biography of an inexhaustible man who deserves his place in the pantheon of environmental founders ... There is far too much detail about peripheral matters that do little to enhance the character or his passions ... He is coy — annoyingly so — about whether Grinnell, who married late in life, might have been gay ... Grinnell’s memory lives on in the wild. And with this book, he is given the fresh look that he deserves.