RaveBooklistTaubman offers hard-won glimpses into the heart of a dreamer sharing a body with the mind of a cagey political operative. With insights comparable to those that won the Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Khrushchev, Taubman here limns the difficulties Gorbachev confronted as he pursued perestroika and glasnost against resistance from hard-liners ready to drive him from office (perhaps into prison), even as liberal activists censured him for stalling. Though Gorbachev reshaped the world, Taubman does not ignore the Soviet leader’s ultimate failure as the liberalization process slipped out of his control and finally broke down in ways since exploited by the reactionary Vladimir Putin. Despite Putin’s retrenchment, Taubman still recognizes in Gorbachev one of the modern era’s greatest benefactors. A masterful portrait, convincing and complete.
RaveBooklistBit by agonizing bit, Buckmaster pries from his painful bodily experiences and his even more painful flights of imagination answers to his profoundest questions about what it means to be a man, a father, a lover, a mortal in a godforsaken, god-haunted polyverse. Readers who, like the protagonist, yearn for answers to such questions will find such by joining him in a psychological maelstrom. Daunting but rewarding, this dazzling work will burnish Kingsnorth’s already luminous reputation.
Freud: The Making of an IllusionFrederick Crews
RaveBooklistWriting in 1922 to Sigmund Freud, the disgruntled husband of a woman undergoing psychoanalysis challenged the famous psychologist: 'Great Doctor, are you a savant or a charlatan?' In this devastating exposé, Crews answers that question with stunning clarity ... Crews relentlessly shreds the deceptions that Freudians even now try to maintain. Trumpeted as a daring breakthrough, Freudianism incorporated concepts the Viennese physician borrowed from mentors he idolized, then betrayed. Framed as the distillation of lessons learned through successful treatments of many patients, Freud’s psychoanalytic method, Crews argues forcefully, emerged with a thin—and mendaciously edited—case history. Disguised as objective truth, Freudianism bore the marks of its creator’s deep-seated insecurities—and guilt. This thorough dismantling of one of modernity’s founding figures is sure to be met with controversy.
Kennedy and KingSteven Levingston
RaveBooklistLevingston here recounts the story of how those cruelly disappointed hopes surged anew just five months later when President Kennedy delivered a stirring speech urging Congress to pass civil rights legislation conferring full citizenship on the nation’s largest minority group ... A riveting episode in American history.
Be Like the Fox: Machiavelli In His WorldErica Benner
PositiveBooklistGuided by Benner, readers penetrate the benign deception in the Florentine author’s authorial ventriloquism and so learn to recognize the subtle but profoundly humane implications of his most famous work, ignored by centuries of readers deaf to the irony undercutting its amoral recommendations. A persuasive challenge to the received opinion of a Renaissance titan.
The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve
PositiveBooklistReaders see how the shadows of the fallen Adam and Eve persisted in Judeo-Christian theology—as well as Western philosophy, art, politics, and sexual ethics. But Greenblatt persuasively argues that Adam and Eve would look different if Origen had persuaded the early church to accept his allegorical understanding of the pair. Instead, Augustine impressed on the Christian mind a sternly literal understanding of Adam and Eve, leaving later believers unprepared for Darwin’s scientific explanation of human beginnings. Though not a believer himself, Greenblatt worries that the imaginative and narrative aridity of Darwin’s explanation of the first hominids has made it a problematic substitute for the scriptural account of Adam and Eve. An impressively wide-ranging inquiry.