In the News, December 2017
Posted 12.13.17: Chosen by Kirkus Reviews among “The Best Nonfiction of 2017”: The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won by Victor Davis Hanson (“An ingenious, always provocative analysis of history's most lethal war.”) and The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek by Howard Markel (“A superb warts-and-all account of two men whose lives help illuminate the rise of health promotion and the modern food industry.”).
Posted 12.12.17: “A. R. Ammons carries you along because as he vamps, like a musician, there's a sense of drama, of his mind expanding and contracting. He will hit his groove and deliver a string of intensities. Then he will pull back because the beauty is too much…. His charm was so great you only slowly realize how much loneliness and anger and depression swam behind his verse…. Ammons hoped that the point in his poetry would be ‘delivered below / the level of argument, straight into the fat / of feeling.' He got there more than most poets of his time. Ammons could be high-minded but he had few pretentious bones in his body. He told us what he wanted and, like Babe Ruth pointing at the bleachers, he delivered.”—Dwight Garner in The New York Times on The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons: Volume 1, 1955-1977 and The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons: Volume 2, 1978-2005, just published by W. W. Norton & Co.
Posted 12.09.17: "Stunning success…. Kurt A. Raaflaub has surpassed even the previous high standards of the 'Landmark Ancient Histories' series…. It's rare for a scholar of Mr. Raaflaub's standing to annotate an ancient text translated for Latinless readers, and still more rare for him to translate it himself.... As its holiday-season debut implies, The Landmark Julius Caesar is his gift, and Robert B. Strassler's, to history readers everywhere and even to professional historians, who will find much original research between its covers…. History buffs, classicists, fans of television's “Rome”: Do not pass up this gift. Whether you revere Caesar as a military genius or despise him as a butcher and a tyrant, The Landmark Julius Caesar is an indispensable way to read his writings and understand his rise to power."—The Wall Street Journal
Posted 12.09.17: "The goal of Robert B. Strassler's "Landmark Ancient Histories" series has been twofold and fairly simple since it started a decade ago with The Landmark Thucydides, create scholarly popular editions that are not only figuratively landmarks, drawing together important contributions from classicists, but also literally landmarks, since the series' signature feature is the extensive collection of maps in every volume.... Scarcely anywhere in the classical canon is this more true than in the case of Julius Caesar, who travelled over the Roman world in both war and peace, and who had accounts of virtually all of those travels ghostwritten in great detail.... Those accounts—the Gallic War, the Civil War, the Alexandrian War, the African War, and the Spanish War—comprise the glorious new entry in Strassler's series, The Landmark Julius Caesar, an oversized 800-page volume featuring the usual panoply of illustrations, diagrams and detailed maps, and also featuring a translation and copious new notes by Brown University classics professor emeritus Kurt A. Raaflaub. Despite the stellar visuals throughout the book, Raaflaub's translation is its standout feature…. A magnificent new English-language rendition. The Landmark Julius Caesar is a superb addition to a superb series." — Steve Donoghue, The National
Posted 11.28.17: "The majesty of Ammons's achievement, scattered previously in more than twenty volumes, some out of print for decades, can now be recognized."—Dan Chiasson in The New Yorker on "The Great American Poet of Daily Chores," The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons: Volume 1, 1955-1977 and The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons: Volume 2, 1978-2005, edited by Robert M. West, with an introduction by Helen Vendler, forthcoming from Norton.
Posted 11.07.17: The New York Times Book Review on The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won by Victor Davis Hanson: “Lively and proactive, full of the kind of novel perceptions that can make a familiar subject interesting again.”—Thomas E. Ricks
Posted 10.29.17: Alan Pell Crawford's How Not to Get Rich: The Financial Misadventures of Mark Twain is excerpted in the fall issue of The Paris Review. Click to our book page for a link to the excerpt from this highly amusing book.
Posted 10.28.17: Chosen the "#1 Best Poetry Book of 2017" by Publishers Weekly: The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons: Volume 1, 1955-1977 and The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons: Volume 2, 1978-2005. “This monumental and authoritative two-volume set collects every poem the prolific Ammons ever published. Ammons continued the American vernacular tradition of Whitman and Williams, pushing it in unexpected directions. His poems were humorous and contemplative, concerned with feeling and natural processes.” Ammons won the 1971 Bollingen Prize; National Book Awards in 1973 and 1993; a MacArthur Fellowship in 1981, the year the award was established; a 1981 National Book Critics Circle Award; a 1993 Library of Congress National Prize for Poetry; the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1998; the Poetry Society of America's Robert Frost Medal; the Ruth Lilly Prize; and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Edited by Robert M. West and introduced by Helen Vendler, the two volumes are forthcoming next month from W. W. Norton & Co. Anyone who cares about American literature should read them.
Posted 10.27.17: “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won is an outstanding work of historical interpretation…. Victor Davis Hanson's background as a classicist and historian of the ancient world enables him to place World War II in a broader historical context, one stressing war's ‘eternal elements.'… It is impossible to do justice to such a magnificent book in a short review. Given the vast quantities of ink expended on accounts of this great conflict, one would think that there was not much more left to say. Hanson proves that this belief is wrong. His fresh examination of World War II cements his reputation as a military historian of the first order.”— Mackubin Thomas Owens, National Review
Posted 10.26.17: “A new book by Alan Pell Crawford, How Not to Get Rich: The Financial Misadventures of Mark Twain, makes an object lesson of Twain's pecuniary gullibility. It places Twain amid the mania of the later nineteenth century, when surging industry existed alongside literal flashes in the pan, life-altering inventions alongside mere novelties. As Crawford writes, ‘The tantalizing prospect of great wealth bedeviled Mark Twain for much of his life.'”— Dan Piepenbring. “Page-Turner,” The New Yorker
Posted 10.25.17: “Victor Davis Hanson is a writer who crunches not only numbers but the text itself. He has a gift for brevity, exactness, and clarity. Invariably he brings the wisdom of a lifetime of scholarship, plus his natural intelligence, to bear on judgments about strategy, causes, leadership, and results. The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won is a fine book, rich in both facts and ideas. It is a triumph for an author/historian with a clear vision, the necessary imagination, and the intellect to explain the past to us on a vast canvas, with clarity, a sense of values, and common sense.”—Jim Delmont, Omaha Dispatch
Posted 10.25.17: “The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won is written in an energetic and engaging style. Mr. Hanson provides more than enough interesting and original points to make this book essential reading.”—Antony Beevor, The Wall Street Journal
Posted 09.25.17: "The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won is a monumental, riveting, and illuminating reappraisal of the first–and hopefully the last–truly global conflict, full of exceptional insights from one of America's greatest living historians. Victor Davis Hanson's account provides an exceptional retrospective on the wars in which a staggering 60 million people perished before the Allies prevailed." — General David Petraeus (US Army, Ret.), former commander of the Surge in Iraq, US Central Command, and coalition forces in Afghanistan and former Director of the CIA
Posted 09.21.17: “As anyone familiar with Victor Davis Hanson's writing would expect, his new, exhaustively researched summary of World War II comes from a novel angle and is a very stimulating and original work. The war is examined thematically, as if by a scanner or ultrasound from different perspectives. The component analyses are grouped in the vast categories of Ideas, Air, Water, Earth, Fire, People, and Ends. This technique produces, from early on, an extensive variety of surprising facts that are very informative and will enhance the knowledge even of people who are already well read on the subject…. It is a brilliant and very original and readable work by a great military historian.”—Conrad Black in The New Criterion on The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.
Posted 09.18.17: Publishers Weekly on Lear: The Great Image of Authority by Harold Bloom: “Pithy exegesis.... As in other books in his Shakespeare's Personalities series, Bloom guides the reader scene by scene through the play, quoting long but well-chosen swaths of text and interjecting commentary that reveals the nuances of Shakespeare's word choices…. He is also deft at bringing out dramatic contrasts between characters…. Bloom's short, superb book has a depth of observation acquired from a lifetime of study, and the author knows when to let Shakespeare and his play speak for themselves.”
Posted 08.31.17: “Victor Hanson adopts a unique style in The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won. Rather than tracing chronology, this accomplished historian organizes his account by themes…that show how common aspects of the war emerged and developed. This unusual approach yields new insights about long-familiar events, making his experiments ingenious and successful. Hanson's themes include ideas, people, and surprisingly, the four elements. Within each he compares the varying styles and experiences of the war's major combatants…. These analyses are extremely rewarding…. Hanson's assessments are remarkably deep and insightful…. Excellent comparisons of Allied and Axis forces and fighting styles.”—Thomas Mullen, America in WWII Magazine
Posted 08.11.17: “The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek, is a serious and in every way commendable book — in its painstaking research, its superb prose and storytelling, and most importantly, its energy and spirit…. Chapter by chapter, in one finely crafted paragraph after another, Markel holds your interest. The Kelloggs is a highly satisfying book, a cultural history in the best tradition of…how one seemingly incidental element of a period can illuminate a whole society and its shifting tastes and values.”—David Walton, The Dallas Morning News
Posted 08.07.17: “Study your Corn Flakes in the morning and you may be hard pressed to see them as the product of high drama. But as biographer Howard Markel reveals, ferocious fraternal rivalries went into their creation. Markel's new book, The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek, vividly recounts the contentious story of two men behind the early 20th century's revolution in ready-to-eat foods…. The book is lively throughout as it delivers a tale both personal in its intensity and grand in its scope.”—Michael Upchurch, Chicago Tribune; “Markel, the author of three previous, well-received histories has, by reaching into a simple box of cornflakes, come up with a rich and satisfying account of the lives, work and enmity of two warring brothers and of a pivotal epoch in American history.”—Katherine A. Powers, Newsday
Posted 08.01.17: Kirkus Reviews on Alan Pell Crawford's How Not to Get Rich: The Financial Misadventures of Mark Twain: "Crawford offers up a zesty financial biography of Twain the businessman, noting that his subject tried to be ‘an Edison as well as a Shakespeare.'... The author chronicles Twain's adventures as an entrepreneur, investor, and inventor; like a diligent accountant, he carefully itemizes Twain's wins and losses in today's monetary values, making them all the more shocking.… Fortunately, Twain was a ‘superb manager of his own image,' a talent that kept his family fed. Light and frothy, this humorous biography is a lively read."
Posted 07.20.17: “Mark Moyar's brilliant history of the United States's Special Operations Forces (SOF), Oppose Any Foe: The Rise of America's Special Operations Forces, records their triumphs and failures…. Moyar draws some vital lessons on how to use them and, just as importantly, how not to.”—Henrik Bering in the Los Angeles Review of Books