Book reviewers confront a discretionary question each time they ply their craft: How much throat-clearing should I do before I actually introduce the book at hand? Sunday’s New York Times Book Review showcased a gamut of approaches.
* Reviewer Yiyun Li got to Jonathan Lethem’s “Dissident Gardens” in 22 words.
*Reviewer Jyoti Thottam got to “An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions” in 155 words.
*Reviewer Andrew Sean Greer got to Margaret Atwood’s “MaddAddam” in 39 words.
*Reviewer Leah Hager Cohen got to Alice McDermott’s “Someone” in 250 words.
*Reviewer Leslie H. Gelb got to Kenneth M. Pollack’s “Unthinkable: Iran, the Bomb, and American Strategy” in 23 words.
*Reviewer Sherwin B. Nuland got to “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital” in 29 words.
*Reviewer Abraham Verghese got to “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death” in 168 words.
*Reviewer Clancy Martin got to Tom Barbash’s “Stay Up with Me” in 21 words.
*Reviewer Rachel Maddow got to Andrew J. Bacevich’s “Breach of Trust: How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their Country” in 432 words.
Stands to reason that a cable host known for segment-stretching monologues would take her time in getting to the point in a book review. Also stands to reason that Maddow would push word-count limits on the issue of U.S. war-making, which is the topic of her 2012 book “Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power.” In a frenzy of cable-host book-reading earlier this year, the Erik Wemple Blog devoured “Drift” in a couple of easy sittings and emerged with a fresh understanding of just how little stands between U.S. leaders and overseas hostilities. Which is why the ongoing Syria debate puts Maddow on her home court and, if her book is any guide, she’ll remain there episodically for years to come.