A whirlwind of a book, full of Trumpian sound and fury—and plenty of news.

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I ALONE CAN FIX IT

DONALD J. TRUMP'S CATASTROPHIC FINAL YEAR

A hard-hitting exposé of the last year of the Trump regime packed with appalling revelations.

This book, write Washington Post reporters Leonnig and Rucker in their sequel to A Very Stable Genius (2020), recounts “how Trump stress-tested the republic, twisting the country’s institutions for personal gain and then pushing his followers too far.” Maundering, bloviating, and always enraged, Trump stalked the halls of the White House, bewildered to find that he could not explain away the pandemic with his spewing flood of misinformation. He was further enraged to find that the voters were not willing to overlook the “abject failure” that he personifies. In perhaps the most newsworthy moments of this newsworthy book, Trump plots to engineer a de facto coup d'état that will keep him in power. His one firm check is the book’s hero, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told his lieutenants at the Pentagon, “They may try, but they’re not going to fucking succeed….You can’t do this without the military….We’re the guys with the guns.” Perhaps surprisingly, Melania and Ivanka Trump emerge as adults in the room, as well, even if a former Trump adviser characterizes the latter as a “stable pony”: “When a racehorse gets too agitated, you bring the stable pony in to calm him down.” In a carefully structured narrative that goes from bad to worse, the authors portray Trump as fully self-satisfied as the Jan. 6 insurrection was taking place, enacted by people whom Milley describes as “the same people we fought in World War II.” To trust this account, Milley almost singlehandedly averted the unprecedented assault on democracy. In a plaintive yet characteristically blustering interview with the authors after Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trump continued to insist that he won the election even while moaning that were it not for the pandemic, he could have beaten a ticket made up of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

A whirlwind of a book, full of Trumpian sound and fury—and plenty of news.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29894-7

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2021

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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