Next book

THE SITUATION ROOM

THE INSIDE STORY OF PRESIDENTS IN CRISIS

An effective blend of political analysis and personal stories, tied together at the epicenter of crisis management.

A behind-the-scenes look inside the White House Situation Room.

Stephanopoulos, co-host of Good Morning America and author of All Too Human, served as Bill Clinton’s senior adviser for policy and strategy. His position and history as a Washington, D.C., insider allows him to examine a series of crises through the story of the Situation Room, located in the subterranean bowels of the White House complex. The author explains that the room was set up in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco in 1961, which John F. Kennedy blamed on poor advice. The idea was to centralize information collection and give the president a dedicated space for decision-making, with a permanent staff of geopolitical experts. Stephanopoulos tracks events ranging from the defeat in Vietnam, to the collapse of the Soviet Union, to 9/11, examining the management styles of the presidents and other key figures and punctuating the story with interviews wherever possible. A peculiar element is that, despite its importance, for a long time, the place itself was unimpressive, much like a dull corporate meeting room. New communication equipment and technology were gradually added, and by the time of the operation to eliminate Osama bin Laden, the president could watch events unfold in real time. In fact, the problems of the current era are information overload and the temptation to micromanage. In early 2023, the room was remodeled into “a digitally advanced, ergonomically designed, smartly configured complex,” and it is now known as the WHSR (pronounced “whizzer”). This transformation was inevitable and necessary, although the author clearly feels a twinge of nostalgia. Recounting a history that might have been lost, Stephanopoulos presents an interesting package for political aficionados as well as general readers.

An effective blend of political analysis and personal stories, tied together at the epicenter of crisis management.

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781538740767

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

Next book

WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

Next book

WHAT WENT WRONG WITH CAPITALISM

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

A book-length assertion that capitalism’s woes can be traced to government interventionism.

Sharma, an investments manager, financial journalist, and author of The 10 Rules of Successful Nations, The Rise and Fall of Nations, and other books, opens with the case of his native India. The author argues that it should be in a better position in the global marketplace, possessing an entrepreneurial culture and endless human capital. The culprit was “India’s lingering attachment to a state that overpromises and under-delivers,” one that privileged social welfare over infrastructure development. Much the same is true in the U.S., where today “President Joe Biden is promising to fix the crises of capitalism by enlarging a government that never shrank.” Refreshingly, Sharma places just as much blame on Ronald Reagan for the swollen state that introduced distortions into the market. Moreover, “flaws that economists blame on ‘market failures,’ including wealth inequality and inordinate corporate power, often flow more from government excesses.” One distortion is the government’s bloated debt, as it continues to fund itself by borrowing in order to pay for “the perennial deficit.” As any household budget manager would tell you, debt is ultimately unsustainable. Wealth concentration is another outcome of government tinkering that has, whether by design or not, concentrated wealth into the hands of a very small number of people, “a critical symptom of capitalism gone wrong, both inefficient and grossly unfair.” Perhaps surprisingly, Sharma notes that in quasi-socialist economies such as the Scandinavian nations, such interventions are fewer and shallower, while autocratic command economies are doomed to fail. “[T]oday every large developed country is a full-fledged democracy,” he writes, and the more freedom the better—but that freedom, he argues, is undermined by the U.S. government, which has accrued “the widest budget deficit in the developed world.”

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9781668008263

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

Close Quickview