Page by Page: Book Reviews

Hones of Contention

In a refreshingly humorous style, the book outlines 19 bad forms of argument, clearly and concisely, followed by a little illustration for each, featuring large-headed animals with a rather curious stare.

Youth, Subverted

There is some preaching to the choir, some inside jokes for people who know the significance of Heather having two mommies and that everyone poops (allusions to children’s book titles), but there is also a sense that the authors want to appeal to those who might have the wrong image of them as people who work in children’s literature.

Mistaken Enmity

What intrigues most about Gall’s book, however, is not the many local lessons it offers but rather how it wants to construct and control a broader narrative about the war. This impulse is smart insofar as no coherent national narrative about Afghanistan seems to circulate, and The Wrong Enemy realizes its opportunity to address the vacuum.

Jazz Man

Music lovers will appreciate the film’s soundtrack, which is made up of seminal selections by some of jazz’s greatest artists. Margot Hentoff says of her husband, who is approaching 90, “He reads and he writes. That’s all that he does.” Hentoff himself says, “I write to write.”

King Lear

Does a man ever get over his father? Born into a Jewish family in New Haven in the summer of 1922, the second child and only boy, Norman Lear developed toward H.K. a reverence that withstood a great deal before souring, which it never did completely. Like Archie, H.K. was a large personality whose faults were proportional to the rest of him.

Curatives And Correctives

“Let Me Heal” chronicles the history of graduate medical education in the United States, from its origins in 19th-century apprenticeships to its birth at Johns Hopkins to its changing character in the late 20th century and the challenges it faces today. It is the definitive account on the topic. This book has obvious appeal for historians of medicine and physicians interested in their past as well as to the lay public curious about the training of their doctors. It also has pressing relevance for policy makers shaping the future of residency.

Harlem Nights

“Harlem Nocturne” departs from conventional narratives of great artists by insisting that the cultural and political currents of their time encouraged and enriched their creativity. New York City, the people and places that made it a progressive, dynamic site for political and cultural expression during the 1940s made it possible for three young black women artists to imagine themselves as “makers and doers” of the essential social, political and aesthetic work of their time.

Cash And Carry

“Hilburn is heavy on facts, but light on interpretation. He doesn’t explain how a shy family man went off the rails so quickly or why Cash, who showed tremendous public empathy, could be so harmful to himself and others. At moments the text begs for analysis, but Hilburn refuses to answer even the questions he poses.”

Causes At War

“It may be important for historians to shift more attention to eastern Europe and to increase the Russian share of the collective responsibility for the war, but one cannot allow this to outweigh Germany’s primary guilt for converting a Balkan War into a “world war” rather than a regional war. McMeekin still disagrees: “Important as the German violation of Belgium was, it did not cause the First World War.” (The House of Commons would have been fascinated to learn this.)”

To Be Like Mike

“Ultimately, Lazenby is content to define Jordan by his pathological competitiveness, as reified publicly in his 2009 Hall of Fame induction speech. In it, “Jordan chose to unburden himself and reveal his competitive heart, to address all of the things, real or imagined, that had driven him.” The result was a speech that seemed so bitter as to be “surprising, and even disappointing” to those who knew Jordan, and “shocking” to the public. For Lazenby, it merely affirms that “the things that had spurred Jordan on in his life were hugely negative,” that this man who brought billions of people joy was in fact defined by anger and hurt feelings.”