Page by Page: Book Reviews

Remembering Diem and the Tragedy of South Vietnam

Readers who share a “revisionist” desire to understand the American intervention in Vietnam as a “lost victory” (as the CIA’s William Colby described it) will find a lot to like in Shaw’s book. But those looking for a more historical and contextual reading of Ngo Dinh Diem and the South Vietnam state he led may have to wait a while longer.

A Great Poet Writes About the Making of Poetry

Glück’s essays in American Originality contain many occasional pieces, such as the introductions to collections she picked for first book prizes, but the strongest pieces move outward and inward at the same time, drawing on autobiographical material to better identify and evaluate the characteristics of our milieu.

Don’t Fence Me In

The Working Class Republican is thesis-ridden, repetitive, and does what any “Gospel According to … ” book does: it gives all the best lines to the Messiah-figure, in this case, Reagan.

Ivory Power

Ivory: Power and Poaching in Africa tells the story of how contemporary wildlife conservation policy and practice has failed, largely because it remains rooted in the colonial era.

Abraham Lincoln’s Best Friend

Strozier’s deep dive into the relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Joshua Speed is powerfully persuasive in showing that not only was it life-affirming for Lincoln but that it was more important and more intimate than his relationship with Mary Todd, or any woman, at the time. This is a hugely consequential shift in the perception, place, and power of the love between men in Lincoln’s life.

Heroes of the Planet

Protecting the Planet will work well for students and others working in the area of environmental policy who want a quick summary, but the reader should not expect to find nuanced theoretical argument or in-depth analysis on issues other than the climate in these pages.

The Unbelievers

From the plethora of images that grace its pages to the careful and precise analysis of the lives of the men and women in the text, Village Atheists is the necessary counterweight to an intellectual world that frantically publishes on secularism today.

Winning One for the Gipper

The story of the rise of Reagan is the story of the successful rise of movement conservatism through rebranding the Republican Party. As Shirley writes astutely, if somewhat glowingly, in Reagan Rising: “In fact, the party was broadening the base by narrowing the appeal. Instead of trying to be all things to all people, the GOP, with Reagan’s gutsy leadership, was becoming one thing to all people.”

Hidden Servitude

By the mid-19th century, most Americans on the East Cost had forgotten their ancestors’ participation in enslaving Natives and were surprised to find it still in operation in the West. Andrés Reséndez powerfully argues what the field has been slowly coming to realize over the past decade: Native American slavery in the Americas was more central, pervasive, and numerically significant than we have previously realized.

Civil War Success

Engineering Victory is as much about wartime logistics—the movement, supply, and support of forces—as it is actual engineering. While Army’s book may not provide much that is new, its synthesizing under one cover the leading influences impacting the war’s logistical challenges and accomplishments is a valuable contribution to Civil War literature.