As sympathetic and well-argued a defense as Mitchell could have hoped for.

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THE STRONG MAN

JOHN MITCHELL AND THE SECRETS OF WATERGATE

A Fox News political correspondent examines the life and legal travails of Nixon’s attorney general, the highest-ranking cabinet member ever to be convicted of criminal charges and imprisoned.

Thirty-five years ago, ITT lobbyist Dita Beard, fugitive financier Robert Vesco and E. Howard Hunt and the White House “plumbers” were infamous for the possibility that their wrongdoing, loosely grouped under the Watergate heading, reached into the highest levels of the Nixon administration. The president’s men proved only too willing to deflect any lawbreaking onto the darkly brooding, former attorney general, John N. Mitchell, Nixon’s ostensible friend, law partner and campaign manager. By doing so, they hoped to satisfy the press and prosecutors with the sacrifice of, in Nixon’s Domestic Policy Advisor John Erlichman’s memorable phrase, “The Big Enchilada.” If the supporting cast of wrongdoers has receded into history, so too has Mitchell. He’s remembered today for his stewardship at the Justice Department, where his law-and-order crackdown essentially destroyed the New Left, and for his marriage to the alcoholic, severely disturbed Martha Mitchell, whose late-night phone calls to Washington reporters defending her husband and assailing Nixon allowed the press to cast her as a “truth-teller,” a heroine of the sordid Watergate affair. As for Mitchell himself, Rosen never quite persuades us that he was, in fact, a warm, witty, genial man, forced to play the role of tough cop and archconservative, a public image demanded by Nixon, responding to the turbulent times. Instead, Rosen’s Mitchell possesses all the charm and charisma normally associated with a municipal-bond lawyer, albeit a tremendously successful one. More convincingly, Rosen takes us through the tangled, manifold legal charges Mitchell weathered, demonstrating that the attorney general, while not wholly innocent, stood only on the periphery of the Nixon administration’s criminality. He instigated little—White House Counsel John Dean is this story’s villain—short-circuited many of the wilder schemes hatched around Nixon and ended up jailed for perjury and obstruction of justice, all in a misguided attempt to protect the presidency. Maybe Mitchell never “controlled” a secret fund dedicated to spying on the Democrats, but his deliciously vulgar reply to reporter Carl Bernstein’s late-night phone call levying the charge underscores the era’s low tenor. Referring to the Washington Post publisher, Mitchell responded, “Katie Graham’s gonna get her tit caught in a big, fat wringer if that’s published.”

As sympathetic and well-argued a defense as Mitchell could have hoped for.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-385-50864-3

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2007

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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