Also of interest…
Inside the halls of power
by George Packer
Richard Holbrooke resembled a Philip Roth character—“a hustling, sweating, deeply imperfect, occasionally inspiring specimen of the human condition,” said Michael O’Donnell in The Washington Monthly. At his peak, the late diplomat was “America’s all-purpose hot-zone fixer,” and in George Packer’s entertaining biography, his work in Vietnam, Bosnia, and the Middle East gives us a worthy tragicomic hero to marvel over as liberal internationalism reveals its strengths and shortcomings.
by Brenda Wineapple
(Random House, $32)
This “compulsively readable” new account of Andrew Johnson’s impeachment doesn’t teach the lesson it intends, said John Fabian Witt in The Washington Post. It casts Johnson’s foes as heroes. They did, after all, try to unseat a racist president who was resisting the effort to expand the rights of freed slaves, and the effort did marginalize Johnson. But the would-be heroes also lost control of the process, damaging their larger cause. Impeachment, apparently, is “no substitute for winning elections.”
White House Warriors
by John Gans
For an organization so crucial to U.S. foreign policy, the National Security Council is starkly undemocratic, said Daniel Bessner in The New Republic. In this enlightening new book, a former Pentagon speechwriter traces the NSC’s growth from a group of unheeded advisers into a catalyst of many military misadventures. The author, “a man of the establishment,” urges mild reform, but the book’s evidence “suggests the need for a thoroughgoing reimagining of the entire structure of U.S. foreign policymaking.”
by Michael Wolff
Michael Wolff’s follow-up to Fire and Fury delivers a few surprises, “but its power to shock may be limited,” said Ron Elving in NPR.org. Most people have made up their minds already about how Donald Trump runs his White House, and Wolff relies too often on anecdotes from anonymous sources as he paints the president as a madman destined to destroy himself. “If nothing else,” though, the author “has performed a kind of service”—just by revisiting all the drama that Trump generates in a year.