The Generals - Thomas E. Ricks

Military correspondent Thomas E. Ricks has produced a searing indictment of the top ranks of America’s armed forces. In The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today (Penguin Press, $32.95), Ricks looks back at World War II under Gen. George Marshall as a zenith of competence for general officers. It was a time, Ricks recalls, when failure was not tolerated and scores of American generals were relieved of command for falling short. By contrast, Ricks contends, today’s system accepts mediocrity and provides little reward for daring. While some talented generals have emerged—notably, David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno—many of the rest leave much to be desired. Provocative and outspoken as always, Ricks calls for a rethinking of the way U.S. generals are managed.
The Generals' War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf By Michael R. Gordon, General Bernard E. Trainor Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316321006
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - November 9th, 1995

Cézanne: A Life - Alex Danchev

In his wide-ranging, erudite Cézanne: A Life (Pantheon, $40), the essayist and Braque biographer Alex Danchev tells the story of this modernist genius in two intertwining narratives. There’s the chronicle of the artist’s roots in Aix, his long friendships with Zola and Pissarro, halfhearted attempt at law school, and disdain for careerists. Then there’s the life of his work. In effect, Danchev breaks up the picture plane of a chronological account, overlaying the usual biographical trajectory with evidence of the reach and power of Cézanne’s paintings. To Danchev, Cézanne is “a life changer,” and a short list of those who experienced the “Cézanne epiphany” includes Matisse and Picasso, Beckett and Stein, Ginsberg and Heidegger. Yet what exactly is it about the art that’s so stunning? Danchev offers fascinating insight into Cézanne’s uncanny way of gauging weight, his application of highlights first rather than last, his radical approach to line and color. Ultimately, however, the undeniable power of his work is more than a matter of technique. Hemingway may have come closest when he summed it up as “a secret.”

Cezanne: A Life By Alex Danchev Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307377074
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Pantheon - October 23rd, 2012

Of Africa - Wole Soyinka

It’s hard to think of anyone better qualified to talk about Africa than the playwright, poet, political prisoner, fearless critic of oppression, and the first African winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Wole Soyinka. In his optimistic new book, Of Africa (Yale Univ., $24), Soyinka brings his encyclopedic knowledge, wide-ranging interests, and insight into the history and cultures of the continent to bear on the question of what Africa has to offer the world today, and how best to respond to the traumas of the past. Soyinka believes in Africa as a resource of “hidden” values—especially spiritual values—an alternative to the “alien binaries” and hegemonic bipolar dichotomies of the past, be they in the political sphere (Communism versus Capitalism), or in the religious fissure between Christianity and Islam. He presents the Yoruba religion, for example, as a “hidden” tradition that “could never have produced… the Inquisition.”

Of Africa By Wole Soyinka Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300198331
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Yale University Press - November 12th, 2013