A weekly roundup of noteworthy reviews from other sources.
Molly Worthen reviews a new study that takes the idea of America as a one-time “peaceful and God-fearing arcadia” and shreds it: “[This] masterful and rewarding book covers three and a half centuries of values, needs, ambitions, and feelings, and debunks a host of common misconceptions about American history.” . . . Gary Giddins is best known for his work about jazz, but a new collection of his writing on movies is “witty, informed and insightful.” . . . In an entertaining review, Lloyd Grove says that Sarah Ellison’s new book about Rupert Murdoch’s takeover of the Wall Street Journal is “a definitive, indeed cinematic, account of the News Corporation’s conquest and occupation of this venerable business publication.” . . . Robert Gottlieb says, “There are a few writers whose lives and personalities are so large, so fascinating, that there’s no such thing as a boring biography of them,” and that Charles Dickens is one of them. . . . Laura Miller has the “exhilarating, if also disorienting, sensation” of reading a new book about quantum theory: “Reading it is a bit like lifting the hood of your mind and moving the working parts around; it’s challenging and trippy — as only the Dr. Seuss realm of the quantum can be.” . . . Edward Luce is disappointed by Christopher Hitchens’ memoir: “Self-reflection is a key ingredient of autobiography, yet it is a quality in which Hitchens is sometimes wincingly deficient.”