A character-rich historical biography that will have special appeal to young students of history.

CLEOPATRA

THE QUEEN WHO CHALLENGED ROME AND CONQUERED ETERNITY

A readable narrative of the legendary Egyptian queen that combines scholarship with novelistic detail and character depth.

First published in Italy in 2018, this popular history captures the essence of one of the most iconic figures in world history, a “stunning-looking, intelligent, and elegant woman with a deep gaze, and oozing sensuality.” Italian scholar, paleontologist, and journalist Angela focuses his inquiry on a key question, one that Cleopatra scholars have explored for centuries: “How did a delicate, lone woman, in an ancient world dominated by men, lead the kingdom of Egypt to its greatest expansion ever and become one of history’s brightest stars?” The author devotes the first 100 pages of his lengthy study building up to the assassination of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.E., showing how the watershed event affected Cleopatra’s own vulnerable standing in the geopolitical realm. She took protection under Rome to stabilize her position of power in relation to her ambitious brothers and ensure Egypt’s autonomy. Upon Caesar’s death, however, she had to cultivate good standing with the new leadership. Using her singular combination of beauty, confidence, intelligence, and cunning, she was able to seduce Mark Antony, a process that Angela re-creates with fairly over-the-top description. Notwithstanding the author’s lapses into overheated language (“we can picture the queen on her bed, her curves rising with every breath, as she gazes at Antony confidently, intensely, invitingly, her full lips half open”), he effectively draws on previous scholarship, wading through legend and myth to get at the truth of what actually occurred. Angela engages readers with rhetorical questions and emphasizes that Cleopatra was a thoroughly modern woman, instrumental in paving the way for the Roman Empire under the ruthless Octavian. “Cleopatra is not only an alluring woman and a queen very capable of managing power,” he writes, “but also an incredible historical catalyst.”

A character-rich historical biography that will have special appeal to young students of history.

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-298421-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperVia

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

SO HELP ME GOD

The former vice president reflects warmly on the president whose followers were encouraged to hang him.

Pence’s calm during the Trump years has been a source of bemusement, especially during the administration’s calamitous demise. In this bulky, oddly uncurious political memoir, Pence suggests the source of his composure is simple: frequent prayer and bottomless patience for politicking. After a relatively speedy recap of his personal and political history in Indiana—born-again Christian, conservative radio host, congressman, governor—he remembers greeting the prospect of serving under Trump with enthusiasm. He “was giving voice to the desperation and frustration caused by decades of government mismanagement,” he writes. Recounting how the Trump-Pence ticket won the White House in 2016, he recalls Trump as a fundamentally hardworking president, albeit one who often shot from the hip. Yet Pence finds Trump’s impulsivity an asset, setting contentious foreign leaders and Democrats off-balance. Soon they settled into good cop–bad cop roles; he was “the gentler voice,” while “it was Trump’s job to bring the thunder.” Throughout, Pence rationalizes and forgives all sorts of thundering. Sniping at John McCain? McCain never really took the time to understand him! Revolving-door staffers? He’s running government like a business! That phone call with Ukraine’s president? Overblown! Downplaying the threat Covid-19 presented in early 2020? Evidence, somehow, of “the leadership that President Trump showed in the early, harrowing days of the pandemic.” But for a second-in-command to such a disruptive figure, Pence dwells little on Trump’s motivations, which makes the story’s climax—Trump’s 2020 election denials and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—impossible for him to reconcile. How could such a selfless patriot fall under the sway of bad lawyers and conspiracy theorists? God only knows. Chalk it up to Pence's forgiving nature. In the lengthy acknowledgments he thanks seemingly everybody he’s known personally or politically; but one name’s missing.

Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 9781982190330

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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A fond remembrance of a glamorous, bygone era.

MY TRAVELS WITH MRS. KENNEDY

A follow-up to the bestselling Mrs. Kennedy and Me.

Teaming up again with his co-author (now wife) on previous books, Hill, a distinguished former Secret Service agent, remembers his days traveling the world as Jacqueline Kennedy’s trusted bodyguard. After John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, Hill received a medal for valor in protecting the president and his wife, Jackie, from Lee Harvey Oswald’s bullets. Later, the medal vanished along with photos of the author's travels with Mrs. Kennedy as a Secret Service bodyguard. Hill recounts how his search for an old award he never wanted yielded an even greater treasure: forgotten images of his globe-trotting adventures with the first lady. The photographs—some in color, some in black and white—immediately transported the bewitched author back to the glittering heyday of Camelot. Images of Jackie in Paris brought memories of the president’s first major state excursion to France, in 1961, where the otherwise very private first lady was “the center of all attention.” Numerous other diplomatic trips followed—to England, Greece, India, Pakistan, and across South America. Everything Jackie did, from visiting ruined temples to having lunch with Queen Elizabeth, was headline news. Hill dutifully protected her from gawkers and paparazzi not only on public occasions, but also more private ones such as family retreats to the Amalfi Coast and the Kennedys’ country home in Middleburg, Virginia. In three short years, the never-romantic bond between the two deepened to a place “beyond friendship” in which “we could communicate with each other with a look or a nod….She knew that I would do whatever she asked—whether it was part of my job as a Secret Service agent or not.” Replete with unseen private photos and anecdotes of a singular relationship, the book will appeal mostly to American historians but also anyone interested in the private world inhabited by one of the most beguiling but enigmatic first ladies in American history.

A fond remembrance of a glamorous, bygone era.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982181-11-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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