9 New Books We Recommend This Week


EXERCISE OF POWER: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World, by Robert M. Gates. (Knopf, $29.95.) With decades of experience at the highest levels of government, Gates presents a critique of past mistakes in American foreign policy and provides a guide for policymakers in the future. “Gates says what he thinks and refuses to pull his punches,” Gideon Rose writes in his review, “and, as a result, the book offers in one volume the most accurate record available of recent American security policy, the most incisive critique of that policy and the most sensible guide to what should come next.”

14 MILES: Building the Border Wall, by DW Gibson. (Simon & Schuster, $28.) Gibson went to the place where Donald Trump’s “big, beautiful” wall is being constructed and talked to a range of people from border agents to activists who trek into the desert to drop jugs of water for thirsty migrants. He comes away with a layered portrait of both the symbol and the reality of Trump’s endeavor. “Gibson’s book stands out from the pack,” our reviewer, Shane Bauer, writes. “So much of today’s journalism lacks context for Trump’s immigration policies. In ‘14 Miles,’ the president’s attack on immigration is rightly presented as the latest in a long history of attempts to keep, or kick, foreigners out. … If anything, Trump’s wall is the embodiment of a longstanding illusion of American permanence and superiority.”

RIGGED: America, Russia, and One Hundred Years of Covert Electoral Interference, by David Shimer. (Knopf, $29.95.) Both the Russians and the Americans have engaged in electoral interference, Shimer says, but the Russians have improved their techniques and America’s patchwork political system leaves it extremely vulnerable. “Shimer skillfully reconstructs the history of how both Washington and Moscow got into the business of election interference in the first place,” Timothy Naftali writes in his review. “While not breaking much new archival ground, he provides a powerful primer, at the same time avoiding the reflexive ‘whataboutism’ that mars so much analysis.”

MAKE RUSSIA GREAT AGAIN, by Christopher Buckley. (Simon & Schuster, $28.) Buckley’s latest satire, involving an effort to blackmail the president over the doings at a Miss Universe pageant, begins with his seventh chief of staff in prison. One standout chapter describes a cult, the Ever Trumpers, who want the president to shoot them on Fifth Avenue. “Buckley is an old hand at this, the author of more than a dozen political satires,” Ben Greenman writes, reviewing the book alongside two other works of politically minded fiction. “Topical lampoonery piles up quickly. Within the first few pages, there’s a statue of the Confederate colonel Robert E. Bigly and a resort called Farrago-Sur-Mer. … Buckley is intelligent and ingenious and at times pitch-perfect.”

ENTER THE AARDVARK, by Jessica Anthony. (Little, Brown, $26.) Alternating between two stories of covert gay affairs, one in Victorian England and one in contemporary Washington, Anthony explores the tension between public and private life, particularly where ambition is involved. Ben Greenman, in his review of three political satires, writes that the author “illustrates that identity is always a construction, and often a rickety one; and wonders whether societies that seem worlds apart might not in fact occupy the exact same space, psychically speaking. The novel is at times elaborate, but in the Rube Goldberg sense; it asks (and answers) simple questions with boundless energy and innovation.”

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