by Andrew Roberts ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 2, 2021
A capacious, prodigiously researched biography from a top-shelf historian.
A revisionist portrait of a maligned monarch.
English historian and biographer Roberts, winner of the Wolfson History Prize and many other honors, draws on abundant archival sources to create a deeply textured portrait of George III (1738-1820), whom he calls “the most unfairly traduced sovereign in the long history of the British monarchy.” Countering the characterizations of George as pompous and cruel, promulgated in such plays as Alan Bennett’s The Madness of George III and Hamilton, Roberts argues that the king was an intelligent, astute leader, dedicated to upholding the British Constitution. In addition to his passion for the arts and sciences; he was “well-meaning, hard-working, decent, dutiful, moral, cultured and kind.” A shy child, he was by no means backward, although his own mother thought he “was not quick.” Nevertheless, Roberts found that “his exercise books in the Royal Archives show that George was perfectly competent at reading and writing English by the age of nine.” By 15, he could translate classical texts, including philosophy. His father died when he was 12, and his grandfather was cruel and abusive, leading young George to see as his “surrogate father” John Stuart, a handsome, charming man 25 years older, who “introduced George to many of the artistic and intellectual passions of his life, and to the people who stimulated them.” Stuart long served as George’s confidant, adviser, and, briefly, prime minister. Roberts capably traces the complicated machinations that led to George’s selection of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz as his wife; the roiling politics of 18th-century England; the gossip and power play that threatened his authority; the American colonists’ inevitable break from British rule (nothing to do with taxes, Roberts argues); and five episodes of manic-depressive psychosis—not, as many historians have believed, porphyria. Vividly detailed, the author’s life of George is comfortably situated in the context of British, European, and Colonial history.A capacious, prodigiously researched biography from a top-shelf historian.
Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021
Page Count: 560
Review Posted Online: Aug. 24, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021
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by Cassidy Hutchinson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 26, 2023
A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.
An insider’s account of the rampant misconduct within the Trump administration, including the tumult surrounding the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.
Hutchinson, who served as an assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, gained national prominence when she testified to the House Select Committee, providing possibly the most damaging portrait of Trump’s erratic behavior to date. In her hotly anticipated memoir, the author traces the challenges and triumphs of her upbringing in New Jersey and the work (including a stint as an intern with Sen. Ted Cruz) that led her to coveted White House internships and eventual positions in the Office of Legislative Affairs and with Meadows. While the book offers few big reveals beyond her testimony (many details leaked before publication), her behind-the-scenes account of the chaotic Trump administration is intermittently insightful. Her initial portrait of Trump is less critical than those written by other former staffers, as the author gauges how his actions were seemingly stirred more by vanity and fear of appearing weak, rather than pure malevolency. For example, she recalls how he attended an event without a mask because he didn’t want to smear his face bronzer. Hutchinson also provides fairly nuanced portraits of Meadows and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who, along with Trump, eventually turned against her. She shares far more negative assessments about others in Trump’s orbit, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and adviser Rudy Giuliani, recounting how Giuliani groped her backstage during Trump’s Jan. 6 speech. The narrative lags after the author leaves the White House, but the story intensifies as she’s faced with subpoenas to testify and is forced to undergo deep soul-searching before choosing to sever ties with Trump and provide the incriminating information that could help take him down.A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.
Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023
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SEEN & HEARD
by Tom Clavin ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 21, 2020
Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.
Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.
The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.
Pub Date: April 21, 2020
Page Count: 400
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020
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