Reviews of the Week: Arthur Herman, Patricia McCormick, Eric Mextas, and more!

If You Can Keep ItMonday June 6

If You Can Keep It
by Eric Metaxas

In a goofy bobblehead of Nathan Hale, created by waggish Yale alums, Metaxas discerns a disturbing symptom of a cultural disease afflicting America. Evident in the myriad ways that many Americans now ignore or deprecate all that is noble and inspiring in their country’s history, this disease greatly alarms Metaxas as a threat to the republic the American founders created two centuries ago. Readers willing to contemplate that threat will see how cultural amnesia has dramatically dimmed America’s collective awareness that freedom depends ultimately on virtue.

Jackson 1964 Calvin TrillinTuesday June 7

Jackson, 1964 by Calvin Trillin

Best-selling master essayist Trillin (Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin, 2011) has created an exceptional collection of the articles he has written as a staff writer on race and racism for the New Yorker between 1964 and 2008. These aren’t flashy stories; in fact, they bring to mind the localism of a community newspaper. Yet in them Trillin addresses the sensitive, complex issues he raises from a national perspective.

Wednesday June 8

Douglas MacArthurDouglas MacArthur by Arthur Herman

It has usually been difficult for biographers and historians to remain neutral about MacArthur. Portrayals of this American icon range from hagiographies to demonizations. If objectivity remains elusive, it is important to strive for fairness, and this massive and generally sympathetic revisiting of MacArthur’s career and character succeeds in that effort. Pulitzer Prize finalist Herman (The Cave and the Light, 2013) presents a superb reexamination of MacArthur and his role in American history.


Plot to kill HitlerThursday June 9

The Plot to Kill Hitler by Patricia McCormick

German theologians are atypical in biographies for youth, but nothing about Dietrich Bonhoeffer was typical. McCormick, author of powerhouses like Sold (2006) and Never Fall Down (2012), takes on the plots to assassinate Adolf Hitler by sidestepping biographers’ usual favorite—the dashing, eye-patched Claus von Stauffenberg—to focus on the quiet, scholarly Bonhoeffer, who, by his early twenties, was already a star in religious philosophy circles.

Friday June 10

A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny

Chief Inspector Gamache has a new gig: he’s been appointed head of the Sûreté Academy du Québec and is tasked with cleaning house. The police school has become a seedbed for corruption, devoted to turning out bent cops. The inspector, of course, has a multilayered plan for ridding the school of its multiple malignancies, but before he can begin surgery, the chief offender is murdered, and Gamache himself becomes the leading suspect.



About the Author:

Eugenia Williamson is the Associate Editor of Digital Products at Booklist. She worked in bookstores for twelve years, reviews books for The Boston Globe, and writes about books, culture, and politics for several other publications. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Genie.

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