I admire The Post for continuing to review books, even after eliminating its stand-alone Book World section. But I do not understand why The Post often encourages reviews of nonfiction books that neglect a critique of the actual writing.
In her review of Jared Diamond’s new book, “The World Until Yesterday” [“Jared Diamond’s ode to the (very) old days,” Outlook, Jan. 27], Rollins College anthropology professor Rachel Newcomb demonstrates her knowledge of the topic of traditional societies, even noting how the subject of her own research is missing from the book. But nowhere does she tell me if “Yesterday” is a good read.
Contrast that with Del Wilber’s review of Alex Kershaw’s “The Liberator.” In a review half the length of Newcomb’s, Wilber not only details the book’s subject matter but also explains what works — and what doesn’t — with Kershaw’s “narrative technique.”
One of the joys of reading a newspaper is being exposed to compelling topics one would never have sought out otherwise. The same is true for biographies and memoirs. Good storytelling matters in fiction, but it also matters when writing stories that are true.
Patrick Ross, Alexandria