Page by Page: Book Reviews

Undoing the Colonial World that Whites Made

In Worldmaking after Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination, Adom Getachew returns to the sunrise of African and Caribbean decolonization in the twentieth century. Far from portraying the neoliberal African state as the fulfillment of the freedom dreams of the Black Atlantic’s architects of decolonization, Getachew excavates a vibrant set of histories that show us that those visions were quite different.

Ronald Reagan and His Revolution

A reader primarily interested in an exhaustive account of policy specifics or in Reagan’s position in the longer arc of American political history might do better with other biographies, or with the several excellent historical works addressing the broader context of the Reagan presidency. But for the reader primarily interested in a single biography about Reagan the man and Reagan the politician, and moderately serious about following details of his statesmanship, An American Journey would be a rewarding choice—entertaining, evenhanded, and historically rich.

Recreating the Heavens

In Star Theatre, William Firebrace, as the architect that he is, provides the reader with an excellent assessment of some of the most interesting planetarium buildings in the world. He also walks us through the unique history of the human desire to bring the heavens down to Earth.

An Eerie Self-Pity: Curzio Malaparte on the Rocks of Resistance in Paris

Curzio Malaparte’s ferociously ambiguous politics pushed him in and out of Il Duce’s prisons in the 1930s, yet they also rehabilitated him sufficiently to grant him access to Axis military and diplomatic operations as a journalist during the war. And when the winds shifted again, he trimmed his sails, finding work with occupying U.S. forces in Italy after Mussolini’s collapse.

An Ensemble View of Modern American Life

While The Other Americans makes for a compelling read with its digestible chapters, its alternating perspectives, and its many layers, an overly ambitious scope means that some of the subjects it tries to tackle receive scant attention.

The Story of a Literary Friendship and How It Ends Badly

Be it Hughes and Hurston, Baldwin and Wright, or Tupac and Biggie, burdened friendships are a recurrent and disturbingly alluring theme in the study of Black writers. Yet, if it is the dramatic bite of high-profile betrayal that tends to ignite a hot-selling story, in the case of Zora and Langston it is the dynamics of friendship that provide a happy counterexample.