Page by Page: Book Reviews

The Master of the Nuclear War Machine

Here is the story of how the development of nuclear power that had peacetime possibilities and Hyman Rickover’s personality merged at an essential moment to create a reactor that worked by 1953. Someone else could have developed the nuclear sub, but no one could have done it as quickly and as well as Rickover did.

The Boxer, the Whorehouse, and the Journey to the End of the Night

Shot at a Brothel tells, crisply and succinctly, the story of the rise and fall of Oscar Bonavena, a significant, though not great, boxer of the 1960s and 1970s. Like the other books in the Hamilcar Noir series, it shows the underbelly of the world of boxing through short biographies of fighters who sustained tragic ends.

America in the Key of Consensus

Songs of America: Patriotism, Protest and the Music That Made a Nation leans heavily on metaphors of harmony and dissonance with results that are often thought-provoking. The authors honor their subtitle by devoting sustained attention to musical statements of both patriotism and protest, and most importantly making it clear that these categories overlap. Their vision of United States history, while it values dissent, ultimately aims for a reassuring consensus as shouts of protest inevitably find their way into the great American songbook.

The Black Man behind the Curtain of the Rush Limbaugh Show

Integrated into this flattering memoir of Limbaugh is Golden’s autobiography, his adventures in radioland as a data analyst, a producer, a call screener, and an on-air personality. The book also devotes considerable space to Golden’s political views as a Black conservative.

Tales of the Semi-Prisoner of Pennsylvania Avenue

Trump supporters may consider William P. Barr something of a modern-day Judas Iscariot, while Trump critics will deem him to be a shameless apologist. But those who take the time to read One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General will learn a great deal and have the chance to draw their own conclusions.

War, and What It is Good For

The true profit in War is MacMillan’s subdued discussion of how war has disrupted ideas such as history, peace, and reason. The subtitle, however, suggests it will be something different.

The Rise and Fall of Homer G. Phillips Hospital, Another View

The story reminds readers of the rich and important history of Black activism that has shaped Black St. Louis’s fight for equal and just treatment in healthcare. Yet, more contextualization of the capacious realities of anti-Black racism, a deeper consideration of state and federal policies, a foray into newspapers and archives outside of St. Louis and Missouri, and conversations with other Black medical historians could have made the book something more than a journalistic paean to the doctors and nurses that roamed Homer G. Phillips Hospital.

The Rise and Fall of a Noble and Needed Black Institution

The success of O’Connor’s book comes not just from the gripping tales of St. Louis politics, with its palpable racial overtones, but from the personal recollections of the hospital’s staff and community leaders, who viewed the hospital with awe and reverence.