Sunday, October 24, 2010

David Blight on Eric Foner, Anthony Lewis on Stephen Breyer, and more in the book reviews

"All great changes in human affairs happen in history and through time," David W. Blight writes in a review of The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery by Eric Foner in the San Francisco Chronicle.  "Lincoln's ideas regarding race and slavery underwent significant change over the course of his political career; indeed, Foner argues that Lincoln's 'greatness' rests in his 'capacity for growth,' not in the consistency that many have wished to see in him."  Foner has written "a historian's book, a lesson in context" according to Blight, though it is one that should be widely read.  The Fiery Trial is a "distinctive and valuable book, showing persuasively that we should not understand Lincoln from the myth-glazed outcome reading backward, but from the beginning, through one transformative event after another, looking forward."  Read the rest here.

Anthony Lewis reviews Making Our Democracy Work: A Judge’s View by Stephen Breyer in the New York Review of Books.

Also in NYRB:  reviews of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder and Stalin’s Genocides by Norman M. Naimark; The Irony of Manifest Destiny: The Tragedy of America’s Foreign Policy by William Pfaff, and The Icarus Syndrome: A History of American Hubris  by Peter Beinart; and of Fractured Rebellion: The Beijing Red Guard Movement by Andrew G. Walder.

In the New York Times are reviews of THE HONOR CODE: How Moral Revolutions Happen by Kwame Anthony Appiah, and THE KILLER OF LITTLE SHEPHERDS:  A True Crime Story and the Birth of Forensic Science by Douglas Starr.  WASHINGTON:  A Life by Ron Chernow is reviewed in the Washington Post.