Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Book Review Roundup

There’s not a hot summer week that goes by without a new review of Jeffrey Toobin’s American Heiress, which made its way to the pages of The Guardian this week.

In the New Yorker, Adam Gopnik reviews Heather Ann Thompson’s take on the prison riots in Attica, NY, which--despite being “occasionally undermined by a desiccated political vocabulary that bears little relation to the reality of American life, then or now”--uses newly released material from the Nixon White House tapes to “extend humanity and individual witness” to the prison guards as well as the prisoners.

Writing for The Nation, Richard White covers Benjamin Madley’s An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, which “carefully” and “commandingly” argues that  “California’s elected officials were in fact ‘the primary architects of annihilation,’ and that they were funded and enabled by the federal government.”

In the NYRB, William Nordhaus takes on Robert J. Gordon’s The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The US Standard of Living Since the Civil War, which provides a statistical analysis of what he calls the “special century,” the amazing period of economic growth that lasted from 1870 to 1970. “The book is without peer,” Nordhaus says, “in providing a statistical analysis of the uneven pace of growth and technological change.”

One can also read correspondent Nazila Fathi’s review of The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran by Andrew Scott Cooper. Cooper’s resonating narrative chronicles how “the shah transformed a backward, poverty-stricken country into a powerful one with the most educated workforce in the Middle East.”

In the LA Review of Books, John McGreevy reviews The Origins of American Religious Nationalism by Sam Haselby, who describes American nationalism as a product of conflict between “frontier revivalists” and the “nationalist missionaries” of New England.