In the News, December 2019
Posted 11.25.19: Kirkus Reviews on Washington's End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle: “A scholar of American history and former presidential speechwriter delves into the last poignant years of the first president and his struggle to define his legacy…. Finally leaving the nation's capital of Philadelphia upon his successor's inauguration on March 4, 1797, bound for his beloved Virginia home, Mount Vernon, George Washington did not realize how arduous his retirement was going to prove after eight years as president. He was 65 and healthy, yet the pressures were enormous, as Jonathan D. Horn clearly delineates in this welcome new biography of ‘America's first post-presidency.'… In a readable style that includes an appropriate amount of quoting from primary sources, Horn ably captures the tension of Washington's inner turmoil as he continued to deal with urgent dispatches and unwanted news from the capital. A useful biography that provides an honest reckoning of Washington's life and legacy.”
Posted 11.09.19: On How America's Political Parties Change (and How They Don't) by Michael Barone: "This slim collection of essays incisively chronicles both parties' victories and defeats over the past century and a half.... Superb analysis."—Barton Swaim, The Wall Street Journal; "A fascinating brief history of the two parties and their fortunes, and a reminder that today's apparent trend-lines are not forever."—Richard Baehr, American Thinker; "Barone draws on his decades of analysis of the American political scene, his nearly bottomless well of granular knowledge of American political geography, and the more detailed analyses laid out in his multiple previous books. The result is a long-term narrative portrait of our two major parties, now both over 150 years old." — Dan McLaughlin, National Review
Posted 11.07.19: "There have been many cancer memoirs, by both those gripped with the disease and by their caregivers; some dwell on science, others on emotions; they project hope, grief and loss in different configurations. Lehman's memoir pulses with life and memory."—Sandee Brawarsky, The New York Jewish Week, on One Hundred Autobiographies: A Memoir by David Lehman.
Posted 10.17.19: Back on The New York Times Best Seller list! Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends by Peter Schweizer, "An enraging look at how elected officials and those they appoint betray the public trust, this book focuses on ‘corruption by proxy,' where politicians skirt ethics laws by allowing money they can't legally accept to flow through their friends and families. Focusing on corruption by both major parties, this book shows the need for further reform to keep those committed to serving our country from serving themselves instead."
Posted 10.13.19: "As he has written, paraphrasing his beloved Emerson: 'That which you can get from another is never instruction, but always provocation.' Whether you agree or disagree with what he writes, Mr. Bloom always—as the French say—makes you furiously to think. More than that, though, he stands for a rare intellectual purity, being not only a kind of shaggy saint in his devotion to literature but also, like so many saints and prophets, a gadfly, a doomsayer and a great teacher. So here's to you, Harold Bloom, with thanks for 60 years of magnificent and rewarding provocation."—Michael Dirda, The Wall Street Journal, on Possessed by Memory: The Inward Light of Criticism
Posted 09.24.19: A Washington Post Bestseller! Marty Makary's The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care—and How to Fix It, which a starred review in Booklist praised as, "a powerful call to action for more information about health costs and for restoring the ‘noble mission' of treating everyone with fairness and dignity."
Posted 09.10.19: “Harold Bloom, is not only the greatest literary critic of our lifetimes, but quite possibly the greatest of all time. Possessed by Memory: The Inward Light of Criticism appears to be a collection and a coda of memories for Bloom, who turned 89 in July. Bloom is now wheelchair-bound and appears to have dictated much of the book to an assistant, which begs the impressive question of how much of this book simply flowed from the great man's mind. The amount of text and poetry he has committed to memory is astounding and humbling…. This is a mind that has seemingly defied the aging process and the writing is further proof of the mental gymnastics being performed in his mind.... Bloom's genius and memory will astound readers.”—Drew Gallagher, The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, Virginia)
Posted 09.03.19: “Harvey Klehr's new book, The Millionaire Was a Soviet Mole: The Twisted Life of David Karr is a rarity: a biography of a man so interesting that you wonder why you never heard of him before…an engaging book about a fascinating man. Indirectly, it is also a wonderful introduction to the general topic of American communism.”—Mark Hemingway, Law and Liberty
Posted 08.15.19: On the New York Times Best Seller list for 17 weeks! The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks: "An ambitious volume, part sermon, part self-help guide, and part sociological treatise, replete with quotes and stories from Tolstoy, Moses, Orwell, and others.... Yet the book is deeply moving, frequently eloquent, and extraordinarily incisive. It is hopeful in the best sense."—The Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted 08.08.19: “Literature is the closest thing Harold Bloom has to a religion…. Which explains why he retains an essentially sacred view of writing and is concerned to defend the 'western canon' (from Homer through to James Joyce) against unbelievers and skeptics…. Bloom derives consolation from the books that surround him on shelves and in piles on the table and on the floor. In Possessed by Memory: The Inward Light of Criticism, he writes that 'Frequently at dawn, when I am very chilly and sit on the side of my bed, knowing it is not safe for me to go downstairs by myself in order to have some morning tea, I find deep peace in (Wallace) Stevens at his strongest.'”—please see Harold Bloom's interview with Andy Martin of The Independent at the book page link.
Posted 07.29.19: “In the 1930s and '40s, there were any number of American communists so enamored of Joseph Stalin and the shining tomorrows he promised that they would do anything for the Soviet Union, disdaining payment of any kind. David Karr was not one of them. Karr, writes Harvey Klehr in his riveting biography of the man, was something else entirely: He was the young American communist on the make, his eye 'ever alert for the main chance,' his hand ever open to Soviet largess…. Mr. Klehr, an emeritus professor at Emory University and a leading historian of American communism, has spent his professional life tracing, in his 13 books, the links between U.S. and Soviet espionage. He writes a controlled prose supported by meticulous documentation. The Millionaire Was a Soviet Mole: The Twisted Life of David Karr, the product of 30 years of research, is a work of tenacity and obsession; it traces the contours of Karr's life with great detail and precision.... He leaves no available document unturned and ferrets out all that we can know about David Karr. Given how slippery Karr could be, that's an impressive achievement.”—David Evanier, The Wall Street Journal
Posted 07.24.19: A starred review in Booklist for The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care—and How to Fix It by Marty Makary, M.D.: “A Johns Hopkins surgeon and professor of health policy authoritatively and conversationally explains the money games of medicine. How did costs get so high? Blame overtesting, overdiagnosing, and overtreating…. Makary, who visited 22 cities over two years, uses anecdotes liberally and effectively…. Consider this book a powerful call to action for more information about health costs and for restoring the ‘noble mission' of treating everyone with fairness and dignity.”
Posted 07.06.19: A starred review from Publishers Weekly for David Lehman's One Hundred Autobiographies: A Memoir: "Poet and critic Lehman, who was treated for bladder cancer in 2014, brilliantly captures the despair, uncertainty, and anger he felt in these 100 short reflections on life, death, and writing.... Throughout, he reflects on literature and pop culture figures to tell his story.... Lehman's exquisite essays illustrate the ways that beauty can flow out of pain."
Posted 06.20.19: "Though Possessed by Memory: The Inward Light of Criticism cannot strictly be called a memoir, the elements of the private life of the writer that pepper the pages are present enough to make it a deeply personal work, perhaps the most illuminating of the critic's life thus far. It is Bloom's fascination with memory—what haunts and heals us, what drives and draws us—that shapes the book, be it a memory influenced by a particular work or a work that gives rise to the memory, and it is that fascination that is universal regardless of whether a reader is familiar with the core text about which he is writing or not. Bloom reminds us of the ways literature can transform and inform our lives, and Possessed by Memory is a small glimpse into the way it has shaped his. It is brilliant, vast, and well worth the time it takes to sort through his varied critical takes."—Danielle McManus, San Francisco Book Review
Posted 04.24.19: The #1 New York Times Best Seller! The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life by David Brooks. "Deeply moving, frequently eloquent and extraordinarily incisive."—The Washington Post
Posted 04.14.19: "A must-read for all who enjoy literature."—Library Journal on Possessed by Memory: The Inward Light of Criticism by Harold Bloom.
Posted 04.11.19: “David Lehman, already at the forefront of our literary culture, writes a music retrospective inspired by his friend, the late great poet A. R. Ammons…. This book will break your heart for all that's passed, and especially how tenderly Lehman revives it.." — Grace Cavalieri, Maryland's Poet Laureate, Washington Independent Review of Books, on Playlist: A Poem, just published by University of Pittsburgh Press.
Posted 03.17.19: The Case for Trump by Victor Davis Hanson: #2 on The New York Times bestseller list, Hardcover Nonfiction; #3 on the The Wall Street Journal bestseller list, Nonfiction; #3 on Publishers Weekly's bestseller list, Hardcover Frontlist Nonfiction.
Posted 03.02.19: "Admirers of prolific polymath Bloom will treasure this assemblage of 76 pieces, ranging in length from brief reflections to full-length essays, and in genre from memoir to literary analysis…. Readers may find Bloom's personal remarks most affecting…. A rich lifetime of readership and scholarship can be found within the covers of this equally rich book." — Publishers Weekly on Possessed by Memory: The Inward Light of Criticism by Harold Bloom
Posted 02.28.19: “Reflections on the great American twentieth-century poet A. R. Ammons.... The two volumes that make up The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons: Volume 1, 1955-1977 and Volume 2, 1978-2005, which include all collected and previously uncollected poems (though not any of the unpublished drafts and fragments), run to more than 2,000 pages. Handsomely produced by Norton and meticulously edited by Robert M. West.”—Marjorie Perloff, The Times Literary Supplement “The volumes have been superbly edited by Robert West.”—Matthew Bevis, London Review of Books