Current affairs books always run the risk of going rather quickly from the New Releases shelf to the remainder bin, but...

COOL WAR

THE FUTURE OF GLOBAL COMPETITION

A brief consideration of the current state of Sino-American relations.

In his sixth book, Bloomberg View columnist Feldman (International Law/Harvard Univ.; The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State, 2008, etc.) analyzes the increasingly fraught relationship between the United States and China in the 21st century. Although some may wonder whether or not this slim book might have been better justified as a work of long-form magazine journalism or as a scholarly journal article, Feldman is a sensitive and incisive observer of what he has coined the “Cool War” between the two countries. The author explains that the Cool War manifests itself in the form of tense mutual economic interdependence and tendentious struggles for geopolitical power. A crisp writer, Feldman has a fine eye for telling anecdotes, which he uses to frame nearly every chapter. He breaks the book down into three sections. In the first, “Cool War,” he lays out the paradox of Chinese-American relations. In the second, “The Sources of Chinese Conduct,” he effectively provides a primer of contemporary Chinese politics for the overwhelmingly American audience that will make up his readership. In the third section, “Global Competition,” he examines the main sources of conflict that we will face in the future. Neither overly optimistic nor pessimistic, Feldman lays out a compelling case for why the neither-allies-nor-enemies standing between the two powers is tenuous but not necessarily doomed to topple into hot war.

Current affairs books always run the risk of going rather quickly from the New Releases shelf to the remainder bin, but Feldman’s book carries enough insight to warrant serious attention from anyone interested in what may well be the defining relationship in global affairs for decades to come.

Pub Date: May 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9274-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2013

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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