Book reviews

Review: Matt Stoller’s ‘Goliath’

Battling big business for over a century

Thanks to the ascent of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon, legislators, policy analysts, and pundits are taking a fresh look at antitrust law. The time is ripe for books laying out both sides of this issue: the populist case that we need to smack down companies that get too big and powerful, and the libertarian case that the government should keep its clumsy hands off our most successful businesses.

Review: ‘For the Record’ by David Cameron

Europe looms large in former PM's memoir

A man buying a shed is rarely newsworthy. But in 2017, Britain's recently departed prime minister David Cameron made headlines for doing exactly that. With plenty of snark, the press reported on the price tag—$30,000—and plush features of this upmarket "shepherd's hut"

Review: ‘The Art of Return’

Remembering the last revolution

Glue Pour (1969) : Holt-Smithson FoundationContemporary visual art has a history problem. It often strikes viewers as disconnected from great works of the past or any kind of context, aiming at originality for originality's sake. What does a barrel of glue poured down a muddy hillside or a light bulb frozen in a cube of ink have to do with art? Fortunately for the perplexed viewer, National Gallery curator James Meyer has noticed the problem. His new book The Art of Return: The Sixties & Contemporary Culture offers a thoughtful account of how art and history inform each other, even in postmodern art.

Review: ‘This Is Not Propaganda’ by Peter Pomerantsev

Too much information is a bad thing

I really wanted to like Peter Pomerantsev's new book, This Is Not Propaganda. His columns in the LRB, the Guardian, and the American Interest (where I was once a staff writer) are almost always incisive and absorbing. And his first book, Nothing Is True and Everything is Possible, established him as a clearheaded capturer of the mind-fogging milieu of Putin Era Russia.

Review: ‘Cold Warriors’ by Duncan White

Anti-communist writers didn't just describe the Cold War; they were part of it

When he fled Spain in the summer of 1937, one step ahead of the secret police, George Orwell lost his personal copy of a pamphlet by Stalin with the ominous title Defects in Party Work and Measures for Liquidating Trotskyite and Other Double Dealers.

Review: ‘Primal Screams’ by Mary Eberstadt

Youth use identity politics to cope with boomers' mistakes, family breakdowns

In her new book Primal Screams, Mary Eberstadt manages the nearly impossible: finding something new—and worthwhile—to say about identity politics. It'd be fair to wonder whether we really needed one more take on the topic. Plenty already exist, many of them either to virtue signal or take swings at the easy punching bag that millennials are. But for all that's already been said about identity politics, there's one big question nobody's answered: Why do young people find it so appealing?

Review: The Mosquito by Timothy Winegard

Timothy Winegard’s history of our most constant pest

Here's an odd, interesting, and mostly useless fact: The word canopy, meaning an awning or covering, derives from kónops, an Ancient Greek word for mosquito. And here's another odd fact: The word canapé—the bite-sized bit of cocktail-party food—derives from the same root. It's mosquitoes, all the way down.

Review: ‘Thank You For My Service’

From Balad to Black Rifle

Beneath layers of playful, irreverent humor, Mat Best’s memoir Thank You For My Service is a serious book about a former U.S. Army Ranger navigating his way back into civilian life, overcoming an addiction to war, and trying to support his fellow veterans.

Review: Ruth Reichl’s ‘Save Me the Plums’

She ate, she wrote, she conquered

Ruth Reichl /For Ruth Reichl, one memoir is not enough. Her early years were covered in Tender at the Bone. Then came her career as an L.A. Times food critic in Comfort Me with Apples (where she also confesses to infidelity). In Garlic and Sapphires she chronicles her stint as the New York Times's often incognito restaurant reviewer. For You Mom, Finally grapples with Reichl's relationship with her mentally unstable mother. And now there's Save Me the Plums, which covers Reichl's tenure at Gourmet—right up to its untimely demise.

Review: Roger L. Simon’s ‘The GOAT’

A tennis pro pays a steep price to be the Greatest of All Time

It was three or four years ago that the word GOAT finally gnawed through the fence of minor sports blogs and started gamboling in the greener fields of television and newspaper commentary—GOAT, that is, as an acronym for "Greatest of All Time."