A remarkably incisive account of an endlessly compelling figure.

INTREPID'S LAST SECRETS

THEN AND NOW: HISTORY, SPIES AND LIES

A revisionist history of the infamous Canadian spy William Stephenson that focuses on the fascist enemies that he encountered in Allied territories.

The historical legacy of spymaster Stephenson has long been a confusing one. Some historians consider him a minor player in the clandestine machinations of World War II; others believe his contributions were inestimable in value; and still others don’t comment on him at all. As former teacher and journalist Macdonald (The True Intrepid, 2011) observes, it surely didn’t help that Stephenson lied to authors and reporters about the details of his own life. With astonishing meticulousness, the author sets out to fill in these lacunae, starting with Stephenson’s early years in Manitoba, Canada, where he became a successful entrepreneur. He established his own industrial espionage group in the mid-1930s for business purposes, and by 1939, he was in contact with Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service. Stephenson was eventually sent to New York City as a so-called passport control officer, where he ran his own organization, the British Security Coordination, whose aims were to undermine the Axis powers as well as homegrown fascist groups working to undermine the Allies in the United States and England. Macdonald follows American historian Carroll Quigley’s research closely as he shines a light on these groups, which included such institutions as the Council on Foreign Relations, which he contends was working against President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Macdonald’s study is not only rigorously researched, but also conveyed in cinematic terms—and as a result, even unconvinced readers will find themselves riveted. Over the course of the book, the author draws on so much tangled evidence, including hearsay and rumor, that the work has the air of a conspiracy theory at times. However, his argument is relentlessly thorough, and his principal contentions seem plausible. Finally, Macdonald makes a ringing case for exploring a nation’s past: “A country with unexamined history is a country without a soul.”<

A remarkably incisive account of an endlessly compelling figure.

Pub Date: July 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5255-2413-4

Page Count: 552

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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