What’s the biggest single danger facing America today? According to recent national intelligence assessments, it’s not terrorism or nuclear weapons but cyberthreats. David E. Sanger of the New York Times has broken some big stories in this area. For one, he revealed Olympic Games, the code name for the most sophisticated cyberattack in history, the American-Israeli effort to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program with the Stuxnet worm. And with his Times colleague Bill Broad, he described, in 2017, a different cyber effort to neutralize North Korea’s missiles. In The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age (Crown, $28), Sanger explores the growing threat and use of cyberwarfare, the full dimension of which goes well beyond Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election in 2016. As Sanger notes, cyber capabilities now stand to transform military and geopolitical thinking and strategy as much or more than the advent of nuclear weapons did in the 20th century.
There are probably scores of books about women’s anger, but few identify themselves as such—which makes Soraya Chemaly’s brilliant, comprehensive, dead-on study, Rage Becomes Her (Atria, $27), essential and long overdue. First off, what do angry women look like? To men, they might look hysterical, out of control, childish. Knowing this, women disguise anger as sadness, frustration, disappointment—anything but anger. And soon enough that repressed rage becomes depression, anxiety, self-doubt, and eating disorders. It turns from what it is for men—an expression of power—to a pathology, a cause of shame, and a learned helplessness. Women’s anger has been so devalued, Chemaly shows, that it seldom comes up in debates about gender gaps. When women learn about anger, what they learn isn’t how to express it productively and appropriately—though they’re sometimes allowed to be angry on someone else’s behalf--they’re taught to be quiet and deferential, and anger simply isn’t deferential. “If men understood how angry the women around them are, they’d be speechless,” Chemaly says. And in case they’d prefer to think of these stories of bullies, mansplainers, stalkers, dismissive doctors, etc., as being all in women’s minds, Chemaly cites study after study, statistic after statistic.
The central question of Jill Lepore’s ambitious and masterful book, These Truths: A History of the United States (W.W. Norton, $39.95), is whether America has lived up to the ideals of its founders. For Lepore, a Harvard professor and New Yorker staff writer, America’s defining struggle has been trying to adhere to the three truths articulated by Thomas Jefferson—political equality, natural rights, and the sovereignty of the people—while dealing with darker realities. Even at nearly 800 pages (not including footnotes), the book skips over a lot and focuses chiefly on political history, but it does tell a comprehensive and engaging story about the United States. It also serves, as Lepore intends, as “an old-fashioned civics book, an explanation of the origins and ends of democratic institutions.” By examining both the triumphs and failures of America, Lepore lays out not only the “uneasy path” the nation has travelled so far but leaves readers better prepared to navigate whatever lies ahead.