Sunday, August 19, 2012

"Secret" Wars, a "Triumphant" Revolution, and More: This Week in the Book Pages

This week in the Wall Street Journal Rufus Phillips reviews Fredrik Logevall's Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam (Randome House).  "[A]t 714 pages of text," Embers of War, "is a monumental history," writes Phillips; "This book is a widely researched and eloquently written account of how the U.S. came to be involved in Vietnam and is certainly the most comprehensive review of this period to date."

On the domestic front in the 1960s, the Wall Street Journal has a review of Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) by Seth Rosenfeld.  "Without consulting any of the attorney generals or presidents he ostensibly served," writes Sol Stern, "Hoover launched what Mr. Rosenfeld calls a "secret war" against the Berkeley student movement...Not content with spying on the students, Hoover authorized illegal surveillance of professors and college administrators who were deemed too sympathetic to campus radicals."  Read the full review here.

Also in the WSJ, a review of Mark Franko's Martha Graham in Love and War: The Life in the Work (Oxford), and a review of Gyorgy Moldova's history of the ballpoint pen, Ballpoint (New Europe).

TNR: The Book has a review of John Dramani Mahama's memoir, My First Coup d'Etat: And Other True Stories from the Lost Decades of Africa (Bloomsbury) and a review of Karen Elliott House's On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines- and Future (Alfred A. Knopf)

In the LA Times this week you'll find Audrey Bilger's review of Linda Hirshman's Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution (Harper)  Bilger writes: "Although many pens have written on the U.S. gay writes movement, particularly on the AIDS crisis and the 20th century rise in political activism, Hirshman reframes the history as a prequel to an ultimate triumph on the verge of coming to fruition."

And, in the New York Times: Richard A. Posner reviews How Much is Enough? Money and the Good Life (Other Press) by Robert Skidelsky and Edward Skidelsky; reviews of James Joyce: A New Biography (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) by Gordon Bowker (here), David Crist's The Twilight War: The Secret History of America's Thirty-Year Conflict with Iran (Penguin Press) (here), and Jonathan Fenby's The General: Charles de Gaulle and the France He Saved (Skyhorse Publishing) (here).