Review by New York Times Review
IMPEACHMENT: A Citizen's Guide, by Cass R. Sunstein. (Harvard University, paper, $7.95.) True to its subtitle, Sunstein's short book is a guide to everything you need to know about impeachment. This topic has taken on new urgency, though Sunstein does not take up the Trump presidency directly. THE TEMPTATION OF FORGIVENESS, by Donna Leon. (Atlantic Monthly, $26.) Commissario Guido Brunetti embarks on another atmospheric Venetian criminal investigation, this time coming to the aid of a woman whose husband has been attacked on one of the city's stone bridges. A TOKYO ROMANCE: A Memoir, by lan Buruma. (Penguin Press, $26.) The editor of The New York Review of Books recaptures his youthful experiences in the avant-garde film and theater world of the postwar city. "I always felt drawn to outsiders," Buruma writes. "Hovering on the fringes was where I liked to be." A LONG WAY FROM HOME, by Peter Carey. (Knopf, $26.95.) This latest novel from the author of "True History of the Kelly Gang" and "Oscar and Lucinda" follows a married couple and their bachelor neighbor on a bumptious 10,000-mile auto race in 1950s Australia. MY FATHER'S WAKE: How the Irish Teach Us How to Live, Love and Die, by Kevin Toolis. (Da Capo, $26.) The hospital death of Toolis's brother, followed by his father's death in small-town Ireland, led him to examine death rituals around the world. The Irish wake, he says, is "the best guide to life you could ever have." THE NEIGHBORHOOD, by Mario Vargas Llosa. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) Written telenova-style, with chapters alternating among various characters, Vargas Llosa's 20 th novel is an edgy send-up of life in Peru before the downfall of Alberto Fujimori. Wealthy friends find themselves in a difficult situation when one is blackmailed by a tabloid editor and the other, a lawyer, tries to help. VICTORIANS UNDONE: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum, by Kathryn Hughes. (HarperCollins, $29.95.) Hughes's detailed account of five notable 19th-century body parts topples great figures from their pedestals. Made rather than given, these bodies tell an engrossing story about the culture that fashioned them. THE WHICH WAY TREE, by Elizabeth Crook. (Little, Brown, $26.) Crook's western-inflected novel follows a pair of siblings on their hunt for the wild panther that upended their lives. JULIÁN IS A MERMAID, by Jessica Love. (Candlewick, $16.99; ages 4 to 8.) This picture book is full of surprises and delights as it tells the story of a little boy who, dazzled by the sight of mermaids on a subway train, goes home to play dress up - and later attends the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books
Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [March 25, 2018]
Review by Booklist Review
In this manifold collection of 17 essays edited by Sunstein (The World According to Star Wars, 2016), a politically diverse group of legal, political, and social-science scholars addresses the title question: Are we headed towards a period of authoritarianism in America? The office of the presidency today is much more powerful than originally envisioned by our Founding Fathers, whose aim was to break from a remote authority figure. President Trump, it is said, exhibits characteristics in common with authoritarian leaders past and present. Through these carefully sourced essays, readers will gain a framework in which to evaluate the hyperbolic rhetoric disseminated on so many platforms. And the topics covered here continue to ripple in the daily news out of Washington. While the contributors express a healthy variety of opinions about the direction the country is heading, they do agree that we must be vigilant against authoritarian figures exploiting our open society to aggregate power. History has shown that it is possible to irrevocably damage a democracy.--Kaplan, Dan Copyright 2018 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Playing off the title of Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel about the rise of an authoritarian regime in the U.S., It Can't Happen Here, Sunstein (#Republic) gathers together 17 provocative, topical essays, prompted by fears that the Trump presidency could become a dictatorship. His contributors, a diverse group of social scientists, political scientists, and legal experts, ponder topics that include "constitutional rot," the use and misuse of government-declared states of emergency, and lessons from the country's founding. University of Chicago law professor Eric Posner contends that dictators succeed when they take on and defeat several institutions, including the press, courts, and party system; Trump, Posner argues, depends on such institutions, and for now at least is not enacting the dictator's handbook. University of Chicago law professors Tom Ginsburg and Aziz Huq cautiously remind readers that the U.S. Constitution excels at preventing coups or rapid deployment of emergency powers, but not at preventing autocrats from slowly dismantling democracy. Duke University political scientist Timur Kuran warns that in an era of cascading intolerance it is no easy task to find societal common ground. Like almost any essay collection, this one is uneven, but the best of the entries rouse the reader to think carefully and deeply about the prospects for American authoritarianism. Agent: Sarah Chalfant, the Wylie Agency. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A renowned legal scholar assembles a dream team of other legal authorities and cultural and political analysists to ponder the title, substance, and current relevance of It Can't Happen Here (1935), Sinclair Lewis' provocative novel about the rise of fascism in America.The 17 essayists here tend to agree on a couple of fundamental points. First, it's not likely that American democracy will implode and a fascist phoenix will arise from the ashes, but it is still possible. Second, Donald Trump is ignorant and dangerous. The writers take a variety of approaches to the titular question. Some look at key moments in American history when the country did step away from its professed adherence to liberal democracye.g., Abraham Lincoln suspending habeas corpus; Jim Crow in the South; the roundup of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor. There are essays about the importance of the legal system in a democracy, which is not surprising since most of the essays are by legal scholars; how a would-be dictator could proceed in the United States (slowly); the current factors that are worrisome, including low voter turnout, public ignorance of the issues, polarizing media and social media, the dominance of a two-party system; and significant historical parallels (the rise of Napoleon III). Oddly, none of the essayists discuss slavery or Native American reservations; nor does anyone say much about the fractured system of public education that makes it almost impossible for poor communities to afford to educate their children. But what they do discuss is worrisome and more than a bit depressing. Although most of the essayists are moderately sanguine about our survival, most see a pathway that a patient autocrat could take to delete and/or attenuate key Constitutional provisionsespecially those most precious freedoms of speech and the press.Cautionary pieces well-informed by history, legal theory, and patriotism, all bubbling in a cauldron of anxiety. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.