Page by Page: Book Reviews

The Man Behind The Prince

Context is all when it comes to Machiavelli, and Benner does a thorough job of providing it, including many of the lesser-known elements of his life story: the difficult missions on behalf of the Florentine government, the project of a citizen militia, his limited success in re-entering public service after the Medici restoration in 1512.

The American Debate Over Whether to be an Empire

Stephen Kinzer must be credited for producing an eminently readable account of the debate surrounding U.S. imperialism, which he characterizes—never shy of superlatives—as the “farthest-reaching debate in our history” and “the mother of all debates” on foreign policy.

Leonardo’s Relentless Curiosity

Leonardo can be a slippery subject. He was a multi-faceted artist/scientist, inventor/visionary difficult to grasp in his protean totality. Walter Isaacson, however, is a reliable and voluble guide. This is a good read.

Of Medicine and Desegregation

The Power to Heal tells how federal health officials—with backing from President Lyndon Johnson and other federal officials—mobilized to achieve a startlingly rapid transformation of U.S. hospitals.

Refugees of Redoubt

The New Odyssey is, in both style and analysis, the work of a tireless and fast-paced reporter rather than that of an academic scholar.

Tales of Fortress America

Corrigan’s book is well-conceived and well-executed, written with a polemical chip on its shoulder, to be sure, but with an earnest intelligence that makes it a compelling and at times even absorbing read, revealing a striking self-awareness of the stakes and the drama of the psy-war that prison custodians and their prisoners engage in.

Whiteness and its Age of Discontents

White Trash: the 400-Year Untold History of Class in America is laced from beginning to end with a persistent and urgent consciousness of topical debates about race and politics, and a sensitivity to the ideals, desires, and fears of “lubbers,” “clay-eaters” and “crackers.”

Art for the Public’s Sake

Please Touch is a handsome coffee table book, the kind that invites casual examination but typically poses no real intellectual challenges to its readers. Or so one might initially think.

The World Samba Made

Hertzman’s book on samba illuminates a common struggle for music scholars and cultural historians: how can musical sounds inform our cultural histories?