RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewGorbachev lived then, as now, in a dual reality — admired and feted in Washington, London and Berlin, reviled and ostracized in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Vladivostok. William Taubman grapples with this dichotomy in his masterly new biography, Gorbachev: His Life and Times, which will surely stand as the definitive English-language chronicle of this most intriguing figure for many years to come. Taubman, whose brilliant 2003 biography of Nikita S. Khrushchev won the Pulitzer Prize, delivers another richly layered portrait of a Russian leader determined to reform a thoroughly corrupt and dysfunctional society, only to be swept away by forces he could not control ... What emerges is the portrait of a leader who is vain, impatient and at times petulant, but also wise and thoughtful, a complicated man for a complicated time.
Audacity: How Barack Obama Defied His Critics and Created a Legacy That Will PrevailJonathan Chait
PositiveThe New York Times Book Review...a timely, trenchant and relentlessly argued book ... Indeed, Chait’s book seems more like an argument with the left than with the right ... For disenchanted Obama supporters, this appraisal may seem like a surprise ... Chait’s argument probably will not persuade many on the right, who still see a president who expanded the size and reach of government at home while undercutting American authority abroad. But it may encourage those on the left and in the middle to come around again to a president they once believed in.
Most Blessed of the PatriarchsAnnette Gordon Reed and Peter S. Onuf
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewTo the already bursting Jefferson canon, they add a fresh and layered analysis, one centered more on his interior life than his deeds for posterity ... Gordon-Reed and Onuf are not the first to search for other ways into Jefferson’s private place, nor will they be the last. But they have provided a smart and useful map for those who are certain to follow.
BushJean Edward Smith
PositiveThe New York Times...a comprehensive and compelling narrative punctuated by searing verdicts of all the places where the author thinks the 43rd president went off track ... While not a fresh portrait, it is one worth debating at a time when the political class is struggling to understand the meaning of Mr. Trump’s rise ... The value of Mr. Smith’s account is not original reporting but a thorough assimilation of the existing record.