by Robert M. Gates ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
Recommended reading for foreign policy and geopolitics wonks.
Former Secretary of Defense Gates offers a sweeping view of the uses and limitations of American power in the modern era.
The U.S. remains the world’s foremost superpower, notes the author at the beginning, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not challenged at every turn: China is growing economically, with its political influence broadening; Russia “is aggressively threatening and attempting to destabilize Western democracies and dominate its neighbors”; and small states from North Korea to Iraq and Syria remain hot spots even as several NATO members become ever more autocratic. Recent political leaders, Gates holds, have failed to understand and project American power properly, certainly as compared to Eisenhower, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. The author relies on a half-century of service to critique the presidents who have come after them. On the military front, for instance, he urges the application of Bush’s cautious approach to Iraq in the first Gulf War: Define the objectives clearly, bring overwhelming force, and then get out. Career diplomats, though bureaucratized, are essential to the application of nonmilitary power. Economic power constitutes another instrument. Here, Gates takes Trump to task for an isolationist approach that leaves the door open to China to take the place of the U.S.—as it has been with its international infrastructure projects in 60 countries, all intended to hasten the transport of critical resources to China. Other failures are the invasion of Iraq in 2003, although the author disputes the claim that George W. Bush knowingly lied about weapons of mass destruction: “U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies simply were in error, with grave consequences.” Though critics of Gates will dismiss some of his programmatic recommendations—such as, say, don’t replace one dictator with another without a good plan in place—it’s refreshing to see a secretary of defense call for the use of the military as a choice of last resort.Recommended reading for foreign policy and geopolitics wonks.
Pub Date: June 16, 2020
Page Count: 464
Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020
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by David Grann ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2017
Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2017
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Finalist
Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.
During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Pub Date: April 18, 2017
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017
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by Tom Clavin ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2020
Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.
Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.
The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.
Pub Date: April 21, 2020
Page Count: 400
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020
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