Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sunday Book Review Round-up

It's a great Sunday for book reviews. Here are a few:

CHASING THE FLAME: Sergio Vieira de Mello and The Fight to Save the World by Samantha Power (Penguin) is reviewed in the Washington Post and the San Francisco Chronicle. James Mann in the Post finds that "The strength of the book lies in Power's use of Vieira de Mello's life (and death) as a well-placed window on the international community's successes and failures."

They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons, by Jacob Heilbrunn (Doubleday) is reviewed in the Chicago Tribune. On Iraq, Heilbrunn writes: "Unlike the Vietnam-era generation of Democrats, the neocons show no signs of remorse for the disaster they have created."
The New York Times finds that RIGHTEOUS WARRIOR: Jesse Helms and the Rise of Modern Conservatism by William A. Link (St. Martin’s Press) will be "the go-to biography of Helms for some time."

BASIC BROWN: My Life and Our Times by Willie Brown (Simon & Schuster), according to Matt Bai in the New York Times, is "an illuminating, if one-sided, story about the arc of politics in California and much of the rest of the country during the last quarter of the 20th century."

Maurice Isserman in the New York Times reviews DEFYING DIXIE: The Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919-1950 by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore (W. W. Norton & Company). A great photo of the amazing Pauli Murray, who dominates the book, fills the print edition.

Also in the NY Times, THE RACE CARD: How Bluffing About Bias Makes Race Relations Worse by Richard Thompson Ford (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) gets a sympathetic review from Orlando Patterson, while Jill Nelson's review of SELLOUT: The Politics of Racial Betrayal by Randall Kennedy (Pantheon Books) and A BOUND MAN: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can’t Win by Shelby Steele, finds them to "have a Rip Van Winkle feel to them," so that they "tell us more about what has been than what lies ahead."

Finally, reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle and the New York Sun, a novel(!) about Frantz Fanon: Fanon, by John Edgar Wideman (HOUGHTON MIFFLIN).


Alfred Brophy said...

Thanks, Mary--love to hear your and Risa Goluboff's thoughts about Gilmore. Seems from the Times' review that she's working at oblique angles to you and I'd love to hear a conversation between you two (or three).

Troy said...

I don't think the Dems feel "remorse" about Vietnam. They certainly didn't feel any shame about leaving it to hang out to dry and let millions of SE Asians die. Normally I wouldn't comment, but I figured since you cherry-picked an Iraq quote -- and its ludicrous Vietnam comparison it's up for comment. A Boomer generation that doesn't understand Vietnam -- in all its complexity -- can't be expected to understand Iraq -- in all of its complexity -- either I suppose.

I've heard Steele talk about his book on C-SPAN -- great talk -- should be a great book.

Mary L. Dudziak said...

Hmmm. Compare LBJ's anguished telephone conversations on Vietnam w/ G.W. Bush on Iraq. Perhaps Heilbrunn has a point.

Troy said...

"Anguish" may or may not be a beneficial emotion. A wife beater often feels "anguish" or a murderer. So what? We'll see in 20 years whether anguish is required. Dems should feel "anguish" at Pol Pot -- the devastation they helped create in 1975 when denying further aid to So Vietnamese in violation of U.S. promises. Hmmmm... indeed. I'd wager JFK would've felt no anguish over Vietnam. He wouldn't have pussy-footed around like LBJ. LBJ was a political warrior deluxe -- but he had no stomach for real fighting.