In the News, May 2013
Posted 05.09.13: In today's USA Today, A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas Basbanes is chosen as one of "Five Great Books About Libraries"—"My favorite book about books, the people who collect them, and libraries of all kinds."
Posted 05.07.13: Publishers Weekly on Her Best-Kept Secret: Why Women Drink—and How They Can Regain Control by Gabrielle Glaser: "Over the past century, American women have progressed from sipping in seclusion to enjoying the occasional cocktail in public following WWII, to downing wine today like characters from Sex and the City. In fact, from 1992 to 2007, the number of middle-aged women who sought help getting sober in various treatment programs almost tripled. Journalist Glaser traces the increasingly besotted history of women's relationship with alcohol (focusing mostly on middle-class women), but she becomes particularly insightful and provocative as she argues against the efficacy of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for women…. Conversational and persuasive—this quick read is full of encouraging and informative advice, and it's sure to ignite renewed discussion about one-size-fits-all treatment options." Her Best-Kept Secret will be published in July by Simon & Schuster.
Posted 05.01.13: Choice magazine reviewing America's Unwritten Constitution by Akhil Amar: “This work is both evenhanded and persuasive and destined to become a classic for students of the U.S. Constitution. Summing Up: Essential. All readership levels.”
Posted 04.17.13: "Having given us a much-loved trilogy of books about books — A Gentle Madness, Patience and Fortitude, and A Splendor of Letters — Nicholas A. Basbanes has written a thoroughgoing chronicle about the stuff books are traditionally made of: paper. He starts with its invention in China 1800 years ago, considers its use for everything from currency to the blueprints that facilitated the Industrial Revolution, and records a visit to the National Security Agency, where 100 million secret documents have been pulped and recycled as pizza boxes. Pretty much irresistible."—Barbara Hoffert in Library Journal reviewing On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History, forthcoming this October from Knopf
Posted 04.09.13: “Poetry is important, as a form of expression that does (or can) stand outside narrative, that makes meaning through language, that connects us through the music of words…. Concise, cutting, to the point, offering snapshots of the inner life, like bits of consciousness unfurled. For proof of that, we need look no further than Best of the Best American Poetry: 25th Anniversary Edition, a compendium of the 100 'best' poems published in the Best American Poetry anthology series over the last 25 years. Normally, I'm wary of these 'best of' designations, but the Best American Poetry collections are terrific precisely because they recognize the limitations of the game they're playing, the idea that any group of poems can encapsulate the breadth of all the poetry that's been written in America in a given year. The Best of the Best American Poetry: 25th Anniversary Edition encodes that conflict into its very marrow. 'An intimidating task,' guest editor Robert Pinsky puts it, describing the rigors of selecting 100 poems from the 1,875 that have thus far been published in the series…. The strength of the book (which Pinsky compiled with the aid of series editor David Lehman) is its sense of subjectivity, the way these poems illustrate their editor's aesthetic, and in so doing, tell us something of how poetry operates in the world.”—David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
Posted 04.04.13: Another superb review of America's Unwritten Constitution by Akhil Amar: “The most striking thing about the book, however, is that it is, in many ways, a tour de force. It is extraordinary both in its scope and in the erudition it displays: it is impossible to do justice, in a review, to the learning reflected in its pages. A book that is so dense in historical detail and textual argument could easily become tedious, but this book does not; every chapter is easy to read but packed with substance. The book can be a little oracular at times, and a little preachy; and I have some qualms both about the big picture it paints and about some of the specific arguments it makes. But this is, without question, a remarkable work of scholarship.”—David A. Strauss, Harvard Law Review
Posted 03.05.13: A review of Best of the Best American Poetry: 25th Anniversary Edition in Booklist: "Each year a new volume in the Best American Poetry series, founded by poet David Lehman, appears, each edited by a distinguished American poet.... To celebrate the series' twenty-fifth anniversary, Lehman asked former poet laureate Pinsky to select 100 'best of the best.' The result is a concentrated, high-caliber, and exhilarating overview of the intensity and artistry that have made American poetry so splendidly varied and vital since 1988.... This is an anthology of broad scope, serious pleasure, and invaluable illumination."
Posted 02.19.13: "Invisible Armies is a magisterial account of insurgency and counterinsurgency across the ages, peppered with fascinating personalities.... Out of narrative emerges cogent analysis: The author offers important insights relevant to any modern power faced with a guerrilla opponent. Hard lessons are, however, delivered with elegant prose. Leaving aside what Invisible Armies teaches us, this is a wonderful read."—Gerard DeGroot, The Washington Post...."Not only does Max Boot, a Council on Foreign Relations fellow, show the dominance of this form of war over a few millennia, he manages to draw an entertaining picture of individual insurgents and the counterinsurgents. Boot brings these characters to life across a stretch of history from the Maccabees to McChrystal. The value of such a compilation comes from the perspective that it gives its reader. ... Boot's mammoth book is destined to become a classic with few imitators."—Joseph J. Collins, Armed Forces Journal
Posted 02.11.13: "The Serpent and the Lamb: Cranach, Luther and the Making of the Reformation is generously stocked with both Lucas Cranach's beguiling images and Steven Ozment's deep historical erudition. The book brings to life the kind of enriching political, social, and theological detail which are often treated too perfunctorily by art critics."—Jeffrey Collins, Times Literary Supplement
Posted 01.30.13: Max Boot's Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present is now a New York Times Bestseller. In the latest reviews, Bloomberg News says, "Max Boot's alternative military history is so marvelously readable because every section–and there are many in this epic of 750 pages–is moved along by a vividly pictured zealot, mass murderer, mini-murderer, tactician, partisan, general, king–as well as the weary survivors of battles, wars, massacres, atrocities." and The Wilson Quarterly says Invisible Armies, "brilliantly sums up the lessons of the centuries.”
Posted 01.23.13: The board of the Poetry Foundation has voted unanimously to appoint highly respected poet, critic, and biographer Robert Polito the next president of the organization. He will begin his tenure on July 8, 2013. “We live at a lucky moment for poetry, when there are so many surprising poets across generations, cultures, and styles—and this situation is one of the powerful legacies of Poetry, the magazine Harriet Monroe proposed a little over a century ago,” he said. “I'm grateful to the Poetry Foundation for the chance to join their tradition of innovation and change—at once touchstone, template, and aspiration for the century ahead.” Robert Polito is the author of Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson for which he received a National Book Critics Circle Award and an Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical Work.
Posted 01.22.13: "A definitive survey of the long history of irregular warfare…. One of the most pleasing aspects of Invisible Armies is the superb character sketches that Mr. Boot provides of some of the most important individual actors in military history, insurgent leaders like Washington, T. E. Lawrence, Mao, Castro, Ho Chi Minh and Osama bin Laden…. As America's leaders contemplate a pivot away from the long, hard wars of the past decade, they would do well to contemplate the dozen 'Implications' with which Mr. Boot concludes his magisterial work. He summarizes the lessons of 5,000 years…. Mr. Boot's impressive work of military history is destined to be the classic account of what may be the oldest as well as the hardest form of war."—John Nagl, The Wall Street Journal
Posted 01.21.13: "Enormous, brilliant and important…. Boot, whose grasp on history is amazingly broad, gives examples of traditional warfare from prehistory to today, with concise and enlightening chapters on the great ‘guerrilla' leaders of the past, from a Jewish victory over a Roman army in 66 A.D. to our present difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan.... Terrific…. He has a wonderful biographical as well as a narrative gift…. Endlessly fascinating…. Astute…. Boot's Invisible Armies should be required reading in the White House and Pentagon—the breadth of his knowledge, his first-hand experience, and his sensible point of view make this the best and most realistic book on the subject since that classic work, Colonel C. E. Caldwell's Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice, with the additional advantage that it is well-written, and as readable as a novel…. Lucid, enlightening, and highly readable."—Michael Korda, The Daily Beast
Posted 01.18.13: Max Boot's Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present gets a front-page review in the Feb. 3 New York Time Book Review by Mark Mazower: "A sweeping panorama that ranges over a vast terrain.... Thoughtful, smart, fluent, with an eye for the good story."
Posted 12.20.12: Another wonderful early review of Max Boot's Invisible Armies, this one from Foreign Affairs: "Boot's coverage is remarkably comprehensive... Boot sustains the reader's interest with lively writing and sharp characterizations, including detailed riffs on the personal hygiene and sexual lives of guerrillas." And the Right Honorable Michael Gove, M.P., Secretary of State for Education, U.K., just remarked in The Daily Mail that, “In this Presidential election year, I suppose it's appropriate that the best books I read were all by Americans, and all on politics…. Why Capitalism? by Allan H. Meltzer [offers] brilliantly succinct arguments for the necessity of free markets if we are to have free societies.”
Posted 12.18.12: “That these vicious, hateful crimes against humanity still continue daily under the name of Marxism-Leninism is proven in Melanie Kirkpatrick's extraordinary Escape from North Korea which documents the horrors of living in that country and what people will risk to get away from it. Although it might seem the most depressing book for this season of good cheer, in fact it is also tremendously uplifting, and bears witness to the nobility of the human soul under even the most crushing circumstances.”—British historian and biographer Andrew Roberts