More than 850 book reviews

Tag Archive for ‘Communism’

“Who lost China?”

A review of The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia, by James Bradley @@@@ (4 out of 5) One of the conspiracy theories popular on the Far Right is that Franklin D. Roosevelt engineered the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to ensnare the US in World War II. Like so many… Read More ›

America’s third Red Scare

A review of Fellow Travelers: A Novel, by Thomas Mallon @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Only American history majors are likely to be aware that America’s first Red Scare was sparked in 1886 by the Haymarket affair in Chicago — a demonstration by workers calling for an eight-hour day which led to widespread persecution of… Read More ›

The American role in the Spanish Civil War

A review of Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, by Adam Hochschild @@@@@ (5 out of 5) A few weeks ago I read and reviewed Richard Rhodes’ Hell and Good Company: The Spanish Civil War and the World It Made, which was published last year. More recently, Adam Hochschild tackled… Read More ›

The Vietnam War through Vietnamese eyes

A review of The Sympathizer: A Novel, by Viet Thanh Nguyen @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Viet Thanh Nguyen’s remarkable debut novel, The Sympathizer, has won a slew of literary awards, including the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was also a finalist for a number of other prestigious awards and has been named a… Read More ›

FDR, the gold standard, and the Great Depression

The Money Makers: How Roosevelt and Keynes Ended the Depression, Defeated Fascism, and Secured a Prosperous Peace, by Eric Rauchway @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Call it selective memory: we tend to forget that the survival of our democratic system was by no means assured on March 4, 1933, when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was sworn… Read More ›

How today’s conservatism grew in the cotton fields of California

Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism, by Kathryn S. Olmsted @@@@ (4 out of 5) Most observers of the emergence of what has come to be called “conservatism” in America locate its roots in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. They point to the works of Friedrich Hayek,… Read More ›

Karl Marx was not a Marxist

A review of Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life, by Jonathan Sperber @@@@ (4 out of 5) In a new biography of Karl Marx, the historian Jonathan Sperber set out to explain his subject in the context of nineteenth-century circumstances and attitudes. “Marx was not our contemporary,” he writes, “[but] more a figure of the past… Read More ›

North Korea is not (quite) the country you thought it was

A review of North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters and Defectors, by Daniel Tudor and James Pearson @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Practically everything you know about North Korea is wrong. That, at least, is the inescapable conclusion to take from reading Daniel Tudor and James Pearson’s new book, North Korea Confidential…. Read More ›

An outstanding biography

A review of The Patriarch: The Remarkable Life and Turbulent Times of Joseph P. Kennedy, by David Nasaw @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Joe Kennedy was a piece of work. The men in public life he admired the most were Neville Chamberlain, Herbert Hoover, and J. Edgar Hoover. He deeply distrusted FDR, Winston Churchill, George Marshall,… Read More ›

Betrayal is in the eye of the beholder

A review of A Map of Betrayal, by Ha Jin @@@@ (4 out of 5) Who is the betrayed, and who the betrayer? It’s clear from the outset that there’s plenty of blame to spread around in this deeply engaging novel about a Chinese mole in the CIA. Gary (nee Weimin) Shang is a young… Read More ›