RaveThe Wall Street JournalMr. Ball artfully reanimates ideas that attempted to justify slavery and, later, black subjugation ... Mr. Ball also connects historical New Orleans with the present moment, as when he interviews the descendants of black and Creole families who were victimized by White League violence, showing how past trauma lives on ... Mr. Ball sets this section of the book apart. It’s a risky but effective narrative gambit, revealing that while Mr. Ball may share the history of the people he is interviewing, the impact of that shared history is both infinitely varied and painfully particular ... Life of a Klansman does just that; it helps the reader to understand that uncomfortable historical legacies must be faced and confronted. Though Mr. Ball shies away from prescriptiveness ... His prose is almost never cloying or superficial; this is not a handwringing apology of the sort one sometimes reads in social-media confessionals. Mr. Ball is movingly philosophical about what responsibility his generation holds for the sins of its fathers. He veers away from sentimentality ... Mr. Ball’s examination of the life of his family’s Klansman reminds us that there’s much more work to be done.
RaveNPRWhile there have been numerous books written about [George Washington], few of them have given as complete a picture of our first president as Ron Chernow\'s compelling new biography, Washington: A Life ... a biography of Washington for the 21st century, one that examines his conflicts and foibles as well as his triumphs. It is a psychological as well as a historical portrait. Chernow makes sure the reader sees the tempestuous side of Washington that many knew lay under his calm demeanor but was revealed to only a few ... keeps its distance from Washington mythology, and its narrative informs as much as it entertains.