Next book

FROM COLD WAR TO HOT PEACE

AN AMERICAN AMBASSADOR IN PUTIN’S RUSSIA

Of interest to observers of the unfolding constitutional crisis as well as of Russia’s place in the international order.

A former U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation offers a gimlet-eyed view of the new Cold War.

In 2014, when he announced that he was leaving his post as the Obama administration’s ambassador, McFaul (Political Science/Stanford Univ.; Advancing Democracy Abroad, 2009, etc.) writes that “a prominent pro-Kremlin nationalist told me he was glad to see me go.” The reason: McFaul, unlike many politically appointed diplomats, actually knew something about the country, so much so, as a Stanford Kremlinologist, that Putin was said to have feared him. The author returns the favor. As he makes clear, Putin is no friend of the U.S., and in the most recent iterations of the Cold War, especially the proxy struggle to support or undermine, respectively, an independent Ukraine, he has become ever more anti-American while at the same time progressively “weakening checks on his power.” In some sense, it did not help that Obama backed off from the old U.S. mission, nominal or not, of spreading democracy. Putin certainly had no problem with spreading autocracy, even as Obama “did not support the use of coercive power to pressure dictatorships into democratizing.” But McFaul’s post-mortem on the Obama-Putin relationship is of less immediate interest than his view of the current morass. As he notes, Donald Trump enjoys far greater popularity in polls in Russia than at home, and although Putin may not have directly made Trump president—“American voters did that”—Trump has proven to be a highly useful tool for the Russian autocrat’s ends. He has validated Putin’s claim that the Western media are slanted and untrustworthy, refused to impose congressionally mandated sanctions, and, in his obsession with the “deep state,” has played straight into Putin’s conspiracy theories. Even if, as McFaul writes, “the American backlash against Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election has begun,” it may come too little and too late.

Of interest to observers of the unfolding constitutional crisis as well as of Russia’s place in the international order.

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-71624-7

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

Next book

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

Next book

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Close Quickview