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December 2012

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
Posted 12.11.12:  Arthur Herman's Freedom's Forge was just named a "Best Book of 2012" by the Economist.
Posted 12.06.12:  Scott Snyder writing in The Atlantic: “Former deputy editor of the Wall Street Journal Melanie Kirkpatrick has written a compelling book describing the tortuous path North Koreans must undertake across China to reach freedom in South Korea and other countries in the West. The book captures the multiple paths that desperate North Koreans have taken to arrive safely in South Korea and the West. It champions the sacrifices of dedicated individuals outside North Korea who have risked their lives to assist North Koreans in their road to freedom and to provide information back to North Korea about the outside world. And it savages the policies of governments including China, the United States, and South Korea for turning a blind eye to the suffering of North Koreans who are victims of an uncompromising totalitarian political system…. Despite the efforts of courageous facilitators who comprise Asia's underground railroad, the road to freedom Kirkpatrick describes remains unnecessarily fraught with risk and tragedy for those who are caught, sold, or repatriated to severe punishments in North Korea. Escape from North Korea stands alongside Nothing to Envy and Escape from Camp Fourteen as books that highlight the tragic human consequences of North Korea's systemic failure…. These books convey the previously silenced voices of North Koreans, alongside North Korean refugee autobiographies…. The conditions reported by North Korean refugees who have experienced detention in North Korea are exactly the circumstances that the world has resolved should never be allowed to happen again. But it is happening, and Melanie Kirkpatrick's book provides a call for action.”

November 2012

Posted 11.24.12:  Another terrific early review of Invisible Armies by Max Boot: “Characterized by stealth, raids, and retreats, irregular warfare is a strategy of the weak against the strong, and has been, according to military-affairs writer Boot, ever since Alexander the Great was stymied in modern Afghanistan. Cataloging unconventional wars by the dozens, Boot considers factors that led to victory or defeat.... Few but specialists know of Louis Lyautey; that his counterinsurgency ideas are ancestral to current U.S. military doctrine illustrates the current-affairs importance of Boot's presentation, which is impressively researched, astutely synthesized, and eminently readable.”—Booklist
Posted 11.13.12:  The November 19th issue of The New Yorker, out this week, features David Denby's profile of Diane Ravitch and her book The Death and Life of the Great American School System.

October 2012

Posted 10.22.12:  A wonderful review of The Serpent and the Lamb: Cranach, Luther and the Making of the Reformation by Steven Ozment: “It is common knowledge that Martin Luther changed the religious landscape of Western Europe. Fewer of us are familiar with Lucas Cranach the Elder, the most prolific and arguably the most accomplished artist of the time. And only specialists know that the two were close friends who struggled together on a united front for many of the same goals. Steven Ozment, a distinguished Harvard historian, scrutinizes this relationship between theologian and artist and argues that working in tandem, they shook ‘the foundations of established religion and established art.'… Ozment's book is no stodgy, dreary tome on art history or the history of theology. Rather it is an example of scholarship at its best: carefully researched, elegantly written, spirited and provocative. Another of its outstanding features is the selection of 77 black and white plates and 11 color plates, accompanied by Ozment's invariably insightful and thought-provoking commentary…. Relatively few of the books I see are worth a ‘slow read.' This is one of them.”—Denis R. Janz, America
Posted 10.13.12:  “Many extraordinary personal stories [are] told in Escape from North Korea by Melanie Kirkpatrick, former deputy editor of the editorial page at the Wall Street Journal. The book describes how 24,000 North Koreans have escaped from their country since 1953…. The book makes remarkable reading.... The wealth of this book is in the details—the personal stories which Kirkpatrick has gathered in dozens of interviews in the United States, South Korea and China. It is the personal stories of the refugees and those who help them that are the most moving and extraordinary. The subject is never covered in such detail in the mainstream media…. We should congratulate Kirkpatrick on an excellent piece of research and reporting, throwing light on an extraordinary world that is hidden from sight.”—Mark O'Neill, Asia Sentinel · · · · “Something greater than material benefits moves the brave North Koreans, as Kirkpatrick lays out in this compelling volume. The North Koreans, especially the women, endure unbelievable hardship to find freer lives….. Important.”—Amity Shlaes, Forbes
Posted 10.10.12:  "In America's Unwritten Constitution, Akhil Reed Amar aims high and has produced a masterful, readable book that constitutes one of the best, most creative treatments of the U.S. Constitution in decades.… [The book] is filled with thought-provoking material and fun vignettes, suitable for a wide audience"—Ken Gormley, The Washington Post
Posted 10.05.12:  “In organized crime, the principle of omerta prohibits divulging secret information that might incriminate the family. Medicine, too, has a code of silence. It protects incompetent doctors and error-prone hospitals from public exposure. In Unaccountable, Marty Makary offers a searing indictment from the inside, arguing that the modern health-care industry, unlike almost every other, doesn't disclose its performance or pricing practices to the public and keeps under wraps information about mistakes and substandard quality.—Laura Landro, The Wall Street Journal

September 2012

Posted 09.28.12:  Marty Makary, M.D.'s Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won't Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Heath Care debuts at #23 on the New York Times Best Seller list. "A searing insider's look at what really goes on behind the scenes at major hospitals and how implementing simple steps toward transparency can empower patients and dramatically improve the culture and safety of health care…. A galvanizing book full of shocking truths about the current state of health care."—Kirkus Reviews "A very readable, thought-provoking book.... The problems pointed out and the solutions suggested deserve to be part of a national discussion."—Library Journal
Posted 09.25.12:  "An expansive nuts-and-bolts historical survey from a keen military mind."—Kirkus Reviews on Max Boot's Invisible Armies.
Posted 09.22.12:  "One of the strongest collections in this estimable series' 25-year history."—Bruce Jacobs reviewing Best American Poetry 2012 in Shelf Awareness.
Posted 09.22.12:  Dr. Marty Makary, author of Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won't Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Heath Care, has the cover story in this weekend's Wall Street Journal "Review" section, "How to Stop Hospitals from Killing Us." CNN said Unaccountable is, “An eye-opening look at the culture of medicine. And it's not pretty.”
Posted 09.21.12:  "Lucid and gripping…. Anyone who wants to be truly knowledgeable about Korea or China has an obligation to read Kirkpatrick's book."—John R. Bolton on Melanie Kirkpatrick's Escape from North Korea in the National Review
Posted 09.14.12:  “Melanie Kirkpatrick's Escape from North Korea is an important and stirring account of the refugees from the North and their helpers…. Ms. Kirkpatrick vividly traces the harrowing journey that refugees must undergo…. Escape from North Korea makes a valuable addition to the growing body of literature that exposes the evils of the North Korean state and also chronicles the heroism of those have struggled to make a better life elsewhere.”—Sue Mi Terry, The Wall Street Journal
Posted 09.14.12:  “As he has demonstrated in such prior works as The Burgermeister's Daughter and Flesh and Spirit, Ozment is brilliant at closely examining the primary texts of the period, liberating them from preconceptions and received opinion, and delivering to his readers insightful, surprising and frequently entertaining accounts of life in central Europe at the close of the medieval world…. In short, this is no less than a great book, a shatterer of preconceptions, a demonstration of the complexity and nuance of the questions that animated times past, a fluent and lively account of a corner of the world that would eventually shape modernity.” –Jeremy Dowless, Goodreads, on The Serpent and the Lamb by Steven Ozment
Posted 09.11.12:  "She has written a compelling case study that is as painful to read as it is hard to put down.”—Spengler in Asia Times on Melanie Kirkpatrick's Escape from North Korea
Posted 09.08.12:  “A highly engaging and thought-provoking book.”—Randy Barnett in The Wall Street Journal on Akhil Amar's America's Unwritten Constitution
Posted 09.04.12:  Christianity Today calls Melanie Kirkpatrick's Escape from North Korea “a rare book that puts human faces on the numbers, a lamentation over policies and duplicities that have haunted a people terribly divided." Encounter Books publishes on September 11.