Rice has written an engaging, deftly constructed but conspicuously partisan account of the brief period that changed the United States for the worse ... Mr. Rice is a gifted writer and an assiduous reporter, and his book will delight readers who share his interpretation of the events he relates. But the word 'history,' at least to my old-school sensibilities, implies a greater attempt at detachment and fairness than anything found here ... Mr. Rice sounds like a conspiracy theorist himself on the subject of the Florida recount ... Mr. Rice may be right that America broke at the turn of the century. But he is wrong about who broke it.
... engaging ... don’t be misled by the title, which creates a big hole that Rice never fills. The Year That Broke America is certainly a defensible title for a book about 2000, but shouldn’t an author who makes such a declaration also explain and defend it? What does Rice mean by breaking America? And how did the events of 2000 do that? He never interrupts his brisk narrative to explain ... Rice leaves to readers the task of connecting his anecdotal stories to the breaking of America. As close as this book gets to this challenging subject is a single, long sentence in what publishers call the flap copy — a blurb on the book jacket written to appeal to browsers in bookstores. This sentence does recount, curtly, some enduring consequences of the events of 2000 (and 2001). But no sentences in the book itself directly address what broke, how and why.
While a few of Rice’s contentions feel forced, his narrative is propulsive and entertaining and he manages to make the outcome of that fateful election seem anything but assured. This book will appeal to readers of popular history à la Erik Larson’s work.
... heady ... Wildly digressive and overlong, the narrative veers from politics to business, immigration to terrorism, Florida to Kandahar ... Though Rice doesn’t mount a fully convincing argument for the year’s significance, he tells a lively story.