... thoughtful, if sometimes challenging ... the intellectual tapestry he weaves is complex and variegated ... Prochnik is a literary and artistic omnivore, whose previous books include a study of Gershom Scholem the scholar of Kabbalah. Whether he's dissecting Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents or analyzing Titian's 16th-century painting depicting the myth of Diana and Actaeon, he trusts that his readers possess the fortitude to follow him down some demanding trails ... While the internal landscape many Americans traverse certainly will differ from his, with critical elections looming in 2022 and 2024, the decision he faced may become an equally pressing one for others
... a many-faceted intellectual and moral inquiry rooted in his exceptional erudition, philosophical cast of mind, and family history ... As he delves into 'apocalyptic capitalism,' 'explorations of the unconscious,' Titian, the Surrealists, and Spider-Man, Prochnik traces the nexus between self and civilization with exacting and electrifying rigor, insight, and emotion.
... overwrought ... Prochnik’s musings betray too much focus on Trump as the cause of everything evil. Several chapters revisit the trauma that the author and his liberal circle suffered on election night in 2016, which he compares to the sinking of the Titanic, the 9/11 attacks, Kristallnacht, and other Nazi outrages ... Prochnik’s unfocused erudition illuminates little beyond Trump’s ability to stoke hysteria in his detractors while robbing them of perspective.