In the News, May 2020
Posted 05.23.20: “Nicholas A. Basbanes's superbly sympathetic Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is, perhaps, the biography Longfellow himself would have most liked to read. Absorbing the underlying message of Longfellow's poetry, Mr. Basbanes writes about him the way a friend would, with generosity, gentleness and grace. The author of several well-received books on collectors and collecting, Mr. Basbanes is the ideal biographer.”—The Wall Street Journal
Posted 04.14.20: Publishers Weekly on Cross of Snow: A Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow by Nicholas A. Basbanes: "Longfellow was far more than the old-fashioned and ‘white-bearded Fireside Poet' of popular memory, writes cultural historian Basbanes in this illuminating biography. Basbanes follows Longfellow from his childhood in Portland, Maine, to his teenage travels in Europe and early career as a Bowdoin language and literature professor with an impressive facility for foreign languages. Yearning to write full time and create a ‘form of literary expression distinctive to his time and place,' he became one of the 19th century's most successful authors.... The book also emphasizes Longfellow's relationships with smart, intellectual women, as exemplified by his brilliant and cosmopolitan second wife, Fanny. The devastating deaths of both his wives—Mary, his first, from miscarriage, and Fanny in a horrific fire—lead to striking portraits of grief. Basbanes notes that Longfellow's reputation, demolished by early-20th-century literary modernists, has only recently begun to recover. This volume is an excellent addition to that worthy cause and is a captivating tale of a ‘life lived well and lived in full.'"
Posted 03.27.20: David Lehman's One Hundred Autobiographies: A Memoir is a finalist for the 2019 INDIES Book of the Year Awards: "One Hundred Autobiographies tells the story of Lehman's (provisionally) victorious battle to defeat bladder cancer. During the three-year ordeal of his illness and aftermath, Lehman kept a journal, and the 100-part structure he adopted for the book allows for flashbacks, memories, meditations, and dreams and the occasion to tell his life story or, better yet, a story of the many lives he has lived."
Posted 03.27.20: "A poignant look at the father of his country in the twilight of his life. Horn has a fluid, pleasing style, with stately cadences that suit his subject…. An air of melancholy hangs over Horn's tale."—Michael F. Bishop, National Review, on Washington's End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle by Jonathan D. Horn
Posted 01.10.20: A #1 Amazon bestseller! Profiles in Corruption: Abuse of Power by America's Progressive Elite by Peter Schweizer, author of Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends (“An enraging look at how elected officials and those they appoint betray the public trust.... Focusing on corruption by both major parties.”) and Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich (“A powerful story of money-grubbing and sleaze.").
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 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.