Books in the Media: Wolff, Joyce, Frenkel and Kang favoured by critics

Books in the Media: Wolff, Joyce, Frenkel and Kang favoured by critics

Three non-fiction titles battled it out for top billing this week, with Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang's An Ugly Truth (The Bridge Street Press), Michael Wolff's Landslide (also The Bridge Street Press) and Helen Joyce's Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality (Oneworld) landing four reviews each.

Frenkel and Kang's insider account of the controversies that have prevailed at Facebook in recent years, An Ugly Truth, was a One to Watch for The Bookseller's Caroline Sanderson, who wrote: "Drawing on 'unrivalled' sources, they take us inside the company's complex court politics, with Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg at the centre." The New York Times journalists made an impression at the Observer too, where it picked up a Book of the Week spot and was highlighted as "better sourced than all of its predecessors in the genre" by John Naughton. 

Over in the Times, Hugo Rifkind thought there was "something fascinating in looking back at these early misadventures with data" whilst the New York Times' Sarah Frier said that the authors have "produced the ultimate takedown via careful, comprehensive interrogation of every major Facebook scandal."

Wolff's Landslide concludes his Trump trilogy and Mick Brown in the Telegraph called it the "best book yet", giving the title five stars. He wrote: "Cruel, unforgiving, muckraking, scandalous – this is an unforgettable study of a man retreating into delusion after his election defeat."

The Times' Justin Webb called the book — which follows 2018's Fire & Fury and 2019's Siege (both Little, Brown) — a "lively account" that "shows that there was no method in the madness of the Trump presidency."

"The US journalist’s third book on the administration uncovers astonishing new depths of dysfunction" thought the Evening Standard's Nick Curtis, adding that the title is a "vivid portrait of a regime governed by chaos and venal favouritism." Meanwhile Dwight Garner heralded the title as "smart, vivid and intrepid" in the New York Times, adding that Wolff "has great instincts".

Finally, Joyce's Trans picked up reviews in the Times, the Telegraph, the Observer and the Evening Standard, where Stella O’Malley called it a "tour de force", adding that the "painstaking book is a must-read for anyone looking for a deeper understanding of trans activism." 

The title received five stars in the Telegraph, where Kathleen Stock wrote, "Joyce shows an impressive capacity to handle complex statistics, legal statutes, and other bits of evidence without losing clarity or narrative drive", while the Times' David Aaronovitch called Joyce "icily furious", adding that "one benefit of Joyce’s book is its intellectual clarity and its refusal to compromise."

However Gaby Hinsliff in the Observer said the book's argument had some "curious holes" and that in refusing to acknowledge some fundamental conflicts, the title precluded finding solutions.