Also of interest ... in rebels and game-changers

Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Al; Steinbrenner by Bill Madden; Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende; Revolutionaries by Jack Rakove


by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

(Free Press, $27)

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Death threats haven’t stopped Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s campaign against Islam, but her message has become more confusing, said Susanne Pari in the San Francisco Chronicle. While the second memoir from the Somali refugee and former Dutch politician includes some “poignant personal tales,” it’s overstuffed with policy prescriptions, including one that’s downright embarrassing. To recommend that Christian churches aggressively seek to convert Muslims is to forget the history of the Crusades.


by Bill Madden

(Harper, $27)

This “riveting” portrait of the New York Yankees’ longtime owner shows that bad guys sometimes win, said Michael Shapiro in The New York Times. Bill Madden focuses on George Steinbrenner’s early years in baseball, when his money bought championships and his despotic ways marked him out as “a man of overweening self-importance and callousness.” Madden makes clear that “the Boss” has never even fully understood the very game that his team came to dominate.

Island Beneath the Sea

by Isabel Allende

(HarperCollins, $27)

Isabel Allende’s latest best-seller follows a slave born in revolutionary 18th-century Haiti across 40 years of tumultuous history, said Betsy Willeford in The Miami Herald. The sufferings of Tété “will make you ache” for her homeland, yet this novel “is too much a story of good guys and bad guys,” even after Tété finds her way to freedom. Nor has Allende entirely digested her research. Each time she spends a whole page describing a hairstyle or a breakfast menu, “you want to scream.”


by Jack Rakove

(Houghton Mifflin, $30)

The title of Stanford historian Jack Rakove’s book about America’s Founders is meant to be “almost ironic,” said Alan Pell Crawford in The Wall Street Journal. His “thorough if somewhat unfocused” group portrait casts the leaders of the Revolution as self-interested men of means who were compelled to align themselves with a commoners’ revolt. Rakove gives the Founders’ political ideals “a fair hearing,” but the more “cynical” interpretation he favors does make good sense.

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