PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... lucidly conceived and compellingly written ... much more than a tale of long-ago diplomatic tussles in a faraway place. The issues surrounding Mr. Kissinger’s approach to foreign policy remain current, and Mr. Indyk brings to the task of examining them his years of diplomatic experience in the Clinton and Obama administrations. His book deserves careful attention ... illustrates the struggle between the transformative ambitions of Democratic activists and their qualms about the use of American power that will likely shape the course of the Biden administration ... One hopes to see other aspects of this period receive equally careful treatment.
PositiveWall Street JournalWith the center of gravity of world politics now firmly located in the Indo-Pacific, many are looking for ways to deepen their understanding of the most populous, fastest-growing and potentially most dangerous region in the world. Tim Harper’s Underground Asia: Global Revolutionaries and the Assault on Empire is an excellent place to start. It is a clearly written, brilliantly researched examination of the people and movements that shaped Asia’s course in the 20th century and continue to influence the continent today ... Often relying on colonial police archives, Mr. Harper reconstructs the obscure lives of the revolutionary generation who hammered out the ideas and built the movements that would lead Asia through the astonishingly rapid destruction of some of the largest and most powerful empires the world had ever seen. Readers will sometimes struggle to follow Mr. Harper as his narrative follows a changing cast of characters from British India, French Indochina, the Dutch East Indies, China and Japan on their ideological and global journeys. But perseverance pays off. Underground Asia provides a panoramic overview of the revolutionary ferment that would shape a century of Asian politics.
PositiveThe Wall Street Journal... brisk but thorough ... Mr. Buruma comes down, mildly and moderately, on the Europeanist side. Despite fiascoes like the George W. Bush and Tony Blair partnership that led to the Iraq War, he sees much to admire in seven decades of Anglo-American cooperation. And he is far too honest not to acknowledge that whatever can be said in its favor, the EU is anything but a utopia that will fulfill Britain’s dreams at a trivial cost ... a rich and rewarding book, the best overview that exists of Anglo-American relations from Churchill-FDR to the \'bromance\' between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Mr. Buruma’s personality sketches of both British and American leaders are as insightful as they are sharp ... One wishes, however, that Mr. Buruma had looked harder at the American perspective on a relationship that, though uncapitalized, carries more weight in Washington than the British sometimes understand. The British tend to see the relationship through a transactional lens: How much influence do we get in return for the support we give?
RaveForeign AffairsMarable performs a signal service in providing a fresh look at the man and replacing the simplified version of his life presented in The Autobiography of Malcolm X with a more complex and accurate portrait ... What emerges from Marable’s book is the story of an angry young man’s desperate quest for a legitimate and powerful father figure in a hostile world ... Malcolm himself remains a compelling figure, even as the causes to which he devoted himself become less relevant; Marable’s thoughtful and well-written book helps one understand why.
T. J. Stiles
RaveForeign Affairs... eminently readable and engaging ... a landmark study that significantly enhances one\'s understanding of U.S. economic history ... What makes this book truly remarkable is the author\'s breathtaking grasp of history; as Stiles comes to grips with contemporary essayists such as Charles Francis Adams, who wrote on Vanderbilt, one realizes that his ability to integrate economic, technological, intellectual, and political history makes him one of the most exciting writers in the field.
Douglas A. Blackmon
PositiveForeign AffairsBlackmon does an extraordinary job of re-creating this system for the reader and using old court records and other sources to tell the story of individuals caught up in this chamber of horrors. Jim Crow was much more than discrimination; it was a system of oppression, and its legacy is in some ways more corrosive than that of slavery. This book will help readers begin to grasp the horror of an evil that persisted into living memory.
PositiveForeign AffairsWilentz’s thoroughly researched argument serves as a useful example of solid scholarship and effective writing on a sensitive topic. It also highlights the growing importance of historians to legal studies as the federal bench fills with originalist interpreters of the Constitution. Wilentz is not an originalist himself, but the historical methods he employs here to uncover the intended meaning of the Constitution are exactly those that originalists use. Lawyers and jurists looking to develop arguments that will impress conservative judges would be well advised to study the tools Wilentz deploys to such great effect.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalPeter Bergen has written what in effect are two books about terrorism. Both are valuable. One is a riveting, thoroughly researched account of the evolving state of the threat as a growing number of American citizens join the ranks of foreign terrorist movements—and of how U.S. intelligence and law-enforcement agencies are addressing the constantly shifting threat. The other is a skilled defense of what Mr. Bergen would say is the moderate, middle-of-the-road approach that has characterized the Obama administration’s anti-terror effort.