The week in books

June 19, 2008

A Choice of Enemies by Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies, King's College London. Public Affairs, £20.00, ISBN 9781586485184

"Unlike many critics of the Bush administration, Freedman does not believe the policymakers he is criticising are evil. There are no real villains in his book, with the possible exception of Michael Ledeen - an academic and sometime government adviser who pops up a couple of times giving bad advice to various administrations. But there is little doubt that Freedman has been left aghast by the incompetence and hubris of the Bush administration. He notes with astonishment that, faced with a choice of enemies, the US seems to have ended up in a fight with almost everybody and is 'beset by enemies on all sides.'"

Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

Europe and the Making of England 1660-1760 by Tony Claydon, professor of early modern history, Bangor University. Cambridge University Press, £50.00, ISBN 9780521615204

"For Claydon, religion is not an inward-looking private practice, but an informed, deliberate commitment that created and sustained engagement by Englishmen with Protestant causes in continental Europe. Far from insular and xenophobic, the English emerge in Claydon's book as outward-looking, concerned and principled, self-aware to the point of sustained controversy over the significance of their international role."

Jonathan Clark, The Times Literary Supplement

Doubt Is Their Product: How Industry's Assault on Science Threatens Your Health by David Michaels, research professor and associate chairman of environmental and occupational health, School of Public Health and Health Services, George Washington University. Oxford University Press, £14.99, ISBN 9780195300673

"David Michaels has written a powerful, thorough indictment of the way big business has ignored, suppressed or distorted vital scientific evidence to the detriment of the public's health ... Doubt Is Their Product underlines the need for independent regulation ... The moral is that we all must recognise our tendency to judge evidence with a bias towards our own interests and beliefs."

Dick Taverne, Nature

Garibaldi: Citizen of the World by Alfonso Scirocco, former professor of humanities at University Frederick II. Princeton University Press, £19.95, ISBN 9780691115405

"Alfonso Scirocco has written an old-fashioned biography with a strong narrative, vivid battle scenes, and confident characterization. Unfortunately, these and other virtues are undermined by some careless writing, lazy editing, faulty translating, a worthless index, and an absence of references ... Scirocco's portrait of Garibaldi ... is attractive and fair. Yet in spirit and viewpoint it might have been written at any time over the last 120 years."

David Gilmour, The New York Review of Books.

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