What they’re saying about The Rise & Fall of Great Powers 

“Ingenious,” writes The New York Times. “As in The Imperfectionists, Mr. Rachman needs only a few well-drawn characters to fill a large canvas and an impressive swath of history.”

“If you’re in the market for an accomplished and satisfying novel, one that will take hold of you immediately from page one…just stop reading at the end of this paragraph and wander over to your favourite bookstore and buy a copy of Tom Rachman’s exquisite new book.”
The Globe and Mail

“Some novels are such good company that you don’t want them to end; Tom Rachman knows this, and has pulled off the feat of writing one.”
The Sunday Telegraph

A “Best Book of 2014,” as cited by:
The Daily Mail
The Globe and Mail
Kirkus Reviews
The Vancouver Sun
The Seattle Times

“This book is mesmerizing: a thorough workout for the head and heart.”
The Times of London

“It’s a bookshop-lover’s book, and beautiful prose-lover’s book, and read-it-all-in-one-weekend book.”
The New Republic

“Tom Rachman has done it again…The Rise and Fall of Great Powers has everything that classic novels have — a cast of intriguing and unique characters, a compelling storyline and laser-sharp insights into humanity.”
The Vancouver Sun

Vanity Fair calls the novel “ingeniously orchestrated.”

The Washington Post says that, after The Imperfectionists, this new novel “is weightier, more focused and considerably more melancholy, but it still exhibits the author’s impish wit…Honestly, I found it impossible not to fall in love.”

“A compelling page-turner,” says USA Today. “Taking place at key moments in history, the novel is in some ways about the decline of western civilization and the thrilling power of literature to ward off that downward spiral.”

This second novel by Rachman is a great odyssey whose characters fall into place like a satisfying jigsaw, The Sydney Morning Herald says, concluding: Bring on the third masterpiece!

This book “has it all,” says BBC broadcaster and author John Humphrys, introducing his read-of-the-year in The Daily Mail. “It’s clever, funny and I guarantee you will keep turning the pages.” 

The New York Post cites it as one of the “Best Books of the Summer.”

The CBC names it as a Top 10 Read of the season.

New York magazine called it one of the “6 Books to Read This Summer.”

Amazon selects it as an “Editors’ Pick for Best Books” of the month.

The New Daily of Australia chooses it as top read of the month.

Kirkus calls it “brilliantly structured,” “beautifully written,” and lists it among “New Books Destined to Become Classics.”

“As first evident in his superb debut novel, The Imperfectionists, Rachman can compose sentences, paragraphs and whole pages with near perfect pitch and rhythm.”
The Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Oregonian says, “Tom Rachman scores again.” 

“Tremendously readable, with characters who often spark and jump off the page, and a central puzzle that grips you until the end.”
–The Huffington Post

The Guardian says, “Tom Rachman’s second novel is a great jigsaw-puzzle of a book, spanning a quarter of a century and with its pieces scattered all over the world. “

“The arrival of novel No. 2 can generate as much trepidation as anticipation. You can’t help but wonder: How deep is the well?…Rachman proves the well is plenty deep.”
The Seattle Times

Rachman “solidifies his standing as a writer of great character-driven stories…The dialogue is perfect, and everyone is delightfully clever.”
Quill & Quire

“Highly recommended for its prose and for presenting us with the strangely endearing, surprisingly good-natured, unabashedly weird character named Matilda ‘Tooly’ Zylberberg.”
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The Buffalo News says the book works “the same magic” as The Imperfectionists, with “a whole gamut of fully formed characters, all of them fascinating. … it morphs into a sort of Great Expectations – and we buy every wonderful word of it.”

O: The Oprah Magazine includes it among “Titles to Pick Up Now,” hailing this “smart, rollicking novel.”

NPR’s Fresh Air praises the “precision of its observations, as well as its intricate form and the way stray plot pieces eventually snap into place.”

The Onion/A.V. Club calls the book “so good…the characters in it are beautifully human…Rachman uses this follow-up to prove he’s a writer to watch.” (Grade: A)

“Rachman is an enormously inventive writer,” says the San Francisco Chronicle, calling this an “ambitious and entertaining novel” that is “chock full of wonderfully quirky…(and) lovable characters.”

The Sunday Times of London described it as “memorable for its melancholy warmth” and “almost Dickensian.”

The Financial Times says Rachman’s characters have “off-kilter charm. Even a pot-bellied pig has a distinct personality.”

“Rachman is a gifted wordsmith. As in The Imperfectionists, there’s grace, beauty and wisdom here.”
The National Post

“A meaty novel that isn’t afraid to ask big questions or take risks; the result is a story that is both thoughtful and thrilling.”

“Rachman once again proves himself a master of painting characters with a fine eye for detail…Rachman’s latest is a treat to be devoured.”

And here’s what critics said about The Imperfectionists…

United States & Canada

The New York Times Book Review, cover review:
“This first novel by Tom Rachman, a London-born journalist who has lived and worked all over the world, is so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off. I still haven’t answered that question, nor do I know how someone so young — Rachman turns out to be 35, though he looks even younger in his author photo — could have acquired such a precocious grasp of human foibles. The novel is alternately hilarious and heart-wrenching, and it’s assembled like a Rubik’s Cube.” — By Christopher Buckley

The New York Times
“Mr. Rachman’s transition from journalism to fiction writing is nothing short of spectacular. The Imperfectionists is a splendid original, filled with wit and structured so ingeniously that figuring out where the author is headed is half the reader’s fun. The other half comes from his sparkling descriptions not only of newspaper office denizens but of the tricks of their trade, presented in language that is smartly satirical yet brimming with affection.” — By Janet Maslin

The New Yorker
“[An] acute début … Rachman, a former editor for the International Herald Tribune, paints the characters’ small dramas and private disappointments with humanity and humor.”

The Washington Post
“[A] beguiling first novel … Rachman is a fine observer and a funny writer — and a writer who knows how to be funny in character.”

Chicago Tribune, Editor’s Choice
“Tom Rachman has somehow channeled Calvin Trillin’s Floater and Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop so brilliantly that even a hard-boiled veteran of newspapers couldn’t help falling for this tale.”

Seattle Post-Intelligencer
“There are no wasted words in this book, every scene and detail move the characters and story forward. The Imperfectionists will make you laugh and cry. It’s the rare novel that can shift emotional tone effortlessly. … The Imperfectionists is magnificent.”

USA Today
“[A] delightfully smart debut novel. …The Imperfectionists is driven by pluck, humor and heartbreak.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer
The Imperfectionists goes down as easily as a choice glass of chianti, with a gorgeous finish. … [The novel] is bursting with flavor, especially for readers drawn to deft stories about delectable, difficult characters. It is also the best book I’ve read set in a newsroom since All the President’s Men. … Rachman delivers word portraits with all the verisimilitude of some of those masters hanging in the museums of Rome. He’s that good.”

Vogue, 10 Summer Must-Read
“[A] crackling debut novel  … Rachman taps his rich, tragicomic sense of journalism—’a bunch of dorks pretending to be alpha males’—and of a newsroom’s twilight.”

The Globe and Mail (Canada)
“This book is filled with gorgeous writing, jolts of insight and narrative surprises that feel both unexpected and inevitable. One finishes reading The Imperfectionists with the sense that Rachman not only knows his way around a newsroom, but is also well acquainted with storytelling masters such as Anton Chekhov and William Trevor. Rachman makes a near-flawless debut.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Deftly written and sharply observed. … Even if you’ve never set foot in a newsroom, The Imperfectionists proves a delight. … It’s impossible not to like — this is masterful stuff.

The Boston Globe
“[An] engaging and intelligent first novel. … Rachman has created a series of vividly memorable characters. His writing is usually sharp, controlled, and absorbing. It is a fine debut.”

San Francisco Book Review
“The Imperfectionists has great style. It is a captivating debut from an author who promises to be a strong literary talent.”

The Dallas Morning News
“Much ink has been spilled on sober commentary lamenting the declining fortunes of the newspaper industry. First-time novelist Tom Rachman has written a different kind of elegy, one laced with humor, irony and compassion … Some of the chapters are absolute gems.”

The Atlantic online, Michael Kinsley
“A funny and poignant first novel. … The author grants all his characters, no matter how unattractive, a generous dollop of humanity and nobility. … It’s quite a technical feat.”

The Denver Post
“Rachman writes about [the characters] with affection, insight and verve. ….Enjoy The Imperfectionists for the gem that it is.”

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“In his zinger of a debut, Rachman deftly applies his experience as foreign correspondent and editor to chart the goings-on at a scrappy English-language newspaper in Rome…Chapters read like exquisite short stories…There are more than enough sublime moments [and] unexpected turns.”

Kirkus Reviews
“Rachman’s ability to create a diverse group of fully formed individuals is remarkable. Each is vivid and compelling in his or her own way. The individual stories work well independently, even better as the author skillfully weaves them together…a very strong debut…Funny, humane and artful.”

Library Journal, Starred Review
“With its evocative Italian setting and its timely handling of an industry in flux, this polished, sophisticated debut can be relished in one sitting or read piecemeal as a satisfying series of vignettes linked by historical references to the Ott family empire.”

Christian Science Monitor
Wistfully incisive. … A must-read for any rueful journalistic types … What is truly memorable about The Imperfectionists is the way that Rachman uses the structure of his novel to give meaning to his insecure, scrabbling characters.”

The Onion/A.V. Club
“Rachman displays an almost acrobatic facility with different voices. … The Imperfectionists is a lovingly rendered tribute to a increasingly bygone era, and a page-turner for those still in thrall to turning them.”

Three Guys One Book
“It’s a rare book that makes me want to start it again as soon as I’ve turned the last page.  To say I’ve fallen madly in love with The Imperfectionists is an understatement.  Over the last few weeks this debut novel has surprised and thrilled me, never left my side, and somehow renewed my faith in the daily newspaper.  I’ve even stopped myself from reading this book so I could make it last longer.”

“With long-established newspapers passing from the scene and many others on life support, it’s the perfect time for a satiric look at the business. International journalist Tom Rachman supplies that and much more in The Imperfectionists.”

Rick Kleffel’s The Agony Column
“Rachman peoples his newspaper with some of the most flesh-and-blood, fully realized folks who have ever hidden behind the headlines. … Rachman’s witty writing and cruelly realistic characters will keep you riveted.”

United Kingdom

The Observer, “Best Summer Books”
The Imperfectionists must be one of the most straightforwardly entertaining reads of the year. … It’s a book that’s all the better for its old-fashioned, slightly Waugh-ish feel. The story zips along and it’s just the thing to make a couple of hot afternoons drift pleasantly by.”

The Financial Times
“Rachman is an admirable stylist. Each chapter is so finely wrought that it could stand alone as a memorable short story… a funny, poignant, occasionally breathtaking novel.”

The Daily Mail
“Loaded with charm and insight, the novel brings human tenderness to an inky business.”

The Economist
“The book links together 11 characters, each sharply drawn in a separate chapter. Read singly, each would be a good short story. Together they make an excellent novel. … Readers will look forward to Mr Rachman’s next.”

The Press Association
“A hilarious and poignant debut. …Rachman’s strength lies in his rendering of the characters – all 11 are believable, flawed and loveable. … An insider’s guide to the workings of a newspaper, The Imperfectionists is funny and prescient, but still full of hope.”

The Spectator
“Rachman details his profession with an eye on the tragicomic. …. This fine debut focuses on the bittersweet inevitability of the twilight.”

The Guardian
“Anyone who has ever spent time in newspaperland will recognise The Imperfectionists‘ high degree of authenticity.”

Literary Review
[A] brilliant debut. … This superb novel reveals how, no matter how good we are at what we do, our human weaknesses are often magnified in the hotbed of petty office politics where our fragile egos rarely thrive.”

The Glasgow Herald
“Rachman observes them all with a sympathetic but keen eye. … A series of acutely observed character sketches and a poignant sense of nostalgia.”

Buzz (Wales)
“Witty prose and deft intertwining of the characters … Tragic and comic by turns, the subtly compelling nature of The Imperfectionists will take you almost by surprise.”

The Leeds Guide
“This is very convincing read … the pace is immense. What else would you expect from a newspaper man.”

The Canada Post (U.K.)
“Rare is a voice as original as Tom Rachman’s. … Vignettes packed with poignant insights and laugh-out-loud dialogue, the reader is left amazed and delighted by this new author whose prose is reminiscent of Perlman and Vonnegut yet wholly and wonderfully his own. Buy this book!”

Australia and New Zealand

The Herald on Sunday (Auckland, New Zealand)
“The Imperfectionists is likely to be on lots of must-read lists this year. … It’s an assured debut and I’d be amazed if Rachman’s name doesn’t turn up on an awards shortlist somewhere.”

The Weekend Press (Christchurch, New Zealand)

“Without doubt one of the best books I have read in a long time. … The Imperfectionists is less ‘im’ than perfection.”

Vogue (Australia) 
“For anyone who is addicted to their broadsheet and laments its decline, journalist Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists will strongly satisfy. … A magnificent tribute to the fall of newspapers.”

Marie Claire (Australia) 
“Weaving a compelling narrative with 11 main characters could be tricky, but this talented debut novelist pulls it off. … A clever critique of the newspaper industry, and a fascinating character study into damaged people.”

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (Melbourne)
“The brilliance of Tom Rachman’s novel is how it acknowledges on almost every page the haphazardness of journalism, the imperfections that somehow, against all the odds, produce a newspaper at regular intervals. … But The Imperfectionists is no more a novel about journalists for journalists than War and Peace is a book for Napoleonic scholars. … The Imperfectionists joins that short list of fine novels about journalism, which includes Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop and Michael Frayn’s Towards the End of the Morning.”

The Australian
“A series of connected short stories, brilliantly deployed to explore the disjointed life of a newspaper, its reporters and owners, an accountant and a reader.”

The Big Issue (Australia)
“Rachman certainly knows how to tell a tale – and, just as importantly, knows what to leave out. …. The Imperfectionists is beautifully written, with moments of pathos perfectly matched by patches of whimsy and humour.”

The West Australian (Perth)
“Rachman’s prose, just like the best journalism, is crisp and economical while still admitting of poetry.”

The Courier Mail (Brisbane)
“A winning mixture of warmth, wit, poignancy, quiet insight and powerful melodrama.”

Sunday Star Times (New Zealand)
“Refreshingly honest…I’ll be lining up for Rachman’s second.”

The Sunday Tasmanian
“Rachman is a former journalist who clearly knows the business. … His eye is keen, his pencil sharp. … [This] novel is brilliantly crafted.”


John Grisham
“It’s my favorite novel of the year, and one of the most promising debuts I’ve read in some time.”

Lorrie Moore
“He writes perfectly and with a warm, twinkling-eyed generosity toward human behavior that does not get in the way of his pitiless observation of it.”

Dennis Miller on “The Dennis Miller Show”
“This was a great read. I felt so sated by it intellectually. It’s witty, it’s sad, it’s funny – it’s a stunner. … This was a 10 out of 10 in my book.”

Arthur Phillips – author of Prague and The Song Is You
“Elegiac and bitter, funny and shocking. A group portrait of fascinating characters with nothing in common but their dedication to a doomed idea. I loved it.”

Andrea Lee – author of Russian Journal and Lost Hearts in Italy: A Novel
“Tom Rachman is absolutely a writer to watch, with the ingenious knack of getting under the skin of his characters. The Imperfectionists offers a witty, poignant glimpse into the universe of expatriates living in Rome, and the dreams, stress, and melodrama of a small newspaper. Rachman is clearly at home in these worlds, and his portrait is alternately hilarious, sad, intensely human, and always spot-on in its accuracy.”

Craig Sherborne – author of Hoi Polloi and Muck
“Rachman’s prose is taut, evocative, flecked with lyrical dapples… a clever storyteller.”