America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag
By Sarah Palin
(New York: Harper, 2010)
Like a miracle — that is, miraculously in time for America’s biggest annual sales season — Sarah Palin called upon ghosts of Christmases past to fill the pages of her second book, America by Heart. Her publisher promised an “intimate and personal look” at the former Alaska governor by presenting reflections that “read like a bible of American virtues.” Instead, the goods delivered read like a cut-and-paste job: comments stuffed between quotes from famous people — often dead, thus unable to protest Palin’s (mis)treatment.
The Terminal Spy:
A True Story of Espionage, Betrayal, and Murder
(New York: Doubleday, 2008)
The Terminal Spy deals with untraceable assassinations, a terrible tradition in the Russian Federation that comes from the Soviet Union. Assassination is something Whittaker Chambers (among many defecting communists) feared. In today’s Russia, it has arisen to international prominence anew with the apparent assassination of Alexander Litvinenko.
What I Learned from Older Women
(New York: Crown Publishers, 2000)
Marie Brenner, who has penned the amazing, gripping investigative thriller The Insider among other books, put together one book I found rather misleading. Ostensibly, Great Dames is, according to the subtitle, about women she learned from. A few chapters into the book, however, we readers realize she did not know many of them very well. In fact, she relies heavily on anecdotes from others and from her subjects’s memoirs. Diana Trilling is a good example, and Brenner’s treatment of Whittaker Chambers a good case in point.
The Lost Spy:
An American in Stalin’s Secret Service
(New York: W. W. Norton, August 2008)
Official website: thelostspy.com
Lauren Kim: dust jacket designer
[Reviewed from a galley copy provided by the publisher]
In 1992, Boris Yeltsin held out a dossier with a file inside to an American official:
How the Cold War Began:
The Igor Gouzenko Affair and the Hunt for Soviet Spies
(New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2005)
Sovietologist Dr. Amy Knight approaches the politically charged Hiss-Chambers Case on the side of Alger Hiss. For her, Whittaker Chambers was one of many tools in the hands of the FBI to attack the administration of President Harry S. Truman. She presents Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, and others involved in pre-McCarthy investigations to be victims, equally and alike.