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THE HELL OF GOOD INTENTIONS

AMERICA'S FOREIGN POLICY ELITE AND THE DECLINE OF U.S. PRIMACY

Walt’s call for a greatly reduced military presence overseas will appeal to many readers, though his book will find many...

Want someone to blame for Iraq and Afghanistan? Blame the purveyors of “liberal hegemony,” whose blunders paved the way for Donald Trump.

The 2016 election, argues Walt (International Affairs/Harvard Univ.; Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy, 2005, etc.), went to dark-horse candidate Trump because voters had sensed, somehow, that something was wrong with the way American foreign policy was being conducted. By his account, the establishment against which Trump railed was invested in the idea that America was the primary superpower and responsible for policing the rest of the world. The end of the Cold War allowed the U.S. to pursue ambitious foreign policy objectives “without having to worry very much about the consequences,” some of which would manifest themselves in the rise of Islamism and other reactionary movements. Walt’s arguments against “liberal hegemony”—the adjective meaning not leftist in orientation but instead something that “seeks to use American power to defend and spread the traditional liberal principles of individual freedom, democratic governance, and a market based economy”—are coherent if sometimes strident, and his descriptions match what appears to be happening on the ground, such as the emergence of China as a foreign policy rival to the U.S. The author is not altogether against that emergence, for the arrival of a “true peer competitor” provides powerful incentive to overhaul the system and impose greater accountability for unsuccessful outcomes. In the place of the failed grand strategy followed by both Democratic and Republican administrations in the past few decades, Walt proposes a program of “offshore balancing” that would emphasize American interests and promote world peace. Among its tenets is the abandonment of threats of regime change, as with those recently directed against North Korea. Writes the author, “countries usually seek nuclear weapons because they fear being attacked and want a powerful deterrent, and U.S. efforts at regime change heighten such fears.”

Walt’s call for a greatly reduced military presence overseas will appeal to many readers, though his book will find many critics inside the Beltway and his own Harvard Yard.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-28003-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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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

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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