An eye-opening tale of vicious interoffice warfare, implying that dog-eat-dog politics remain in place on Pennsylvania...




Werth (The Scarlet Professor, 2001) sheds new light on the four weeks following Nixon’s departure from the White House and that period’s ongoing effects.

Gerald Ford, who reluctantly assumed the vice presidency following Spiro Agnew’s resignation, needed desperately to prove his independence when he just as reluctantly became president in 1974. In his first month in office, the author writes, Ford made strong decisions—and quickly reversed them. In Ford’s estimation, empire-building Nixon aide Alexander Haig had to go, to be replaced by a young, efficient staffer named Donald Rumsfeld. Haig, for his part, muttered, “We have to save Ford from his own inexperience” and frightened Ford into keeping him on as chief of staff, at least for a time. Rumsfeld had to content himself with an overseas appointment, while Nixon favorite George H.W. Bush was exiled to ambassadorship in China. Henry Kissinger, having engineered coups around the world and developed a doctrine of cold realpolitik, advised the new president on the matter of Vietnam that “the most popular move was to cut and run.” Always careful to court popularity, Ford eventually did so, but not before he had squandered his scant political capital and chances for actual election by pardoning Nixon for any crimes committed in office. With that, writes Werth, “his month-long honeymoon, which he and the Republicans hoped would propel them through the fall elections, crumpled overnight.” There had been no honeymoon within the White House, however, as residual members of Nixon’s old team battled Ford’s picks. One of the former, Rumsfeld, sensed where his future lay and reinvented himself as a Ford loyalist; he turned on former mentor Kissinger, who finally took Haig’s place in mid-September 1976—and immediately appointed Richard Cheney deputy chief of staff.

An eye-opening tale of vicious interoffice warfare, implying that dog-eat-dog politics remain in place on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Pub Date: April 11, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-51380-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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