A legally intriguing memoir, but its good-versus-evil framing strikes occasional discordant notes.

GAWKER SLAYER: THE PROFESSIONAL AND PERSONAL ADVENTURES OF FAMED ATTORNEY CHARLES HARDER

A high-profile attorney discusses several of his more famous cases, mixing in assorted highlights of personal adventures.

Debut author Harder was born in 1969 and raised in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Encino. By his own account, his childhood was happy and relatively carefree, and included Hollywood-connected friends and classmates. His father, a business manager, maintained a credo that Harder still lives by: “Never give up, and find a way!” This motto got the author through the case that brought him national fame: Bollea v. Gawker. Gawker, a popular online tabloid, had obtained an explicit sex tape of professional wrestler and actor Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, which had been made without his knowledge, and the site published part of the video online. It would take four years of court battles, and millions of dollars in legal fees, for the case to reach resolution in 2016. Bollea had a wealthy backer to fund his lawsuit and hired Harder and his team, who scored an enormous monetary award for their client; this had the effect of putting Gawker out of business. Another victory came when Harder and his partners, working on behalf of celebrity Halle Berry, contributed to the development of California legislation to protect the children of the famous from paparazzi. Harder is at his best when he shares the behind-the-scenes drama of these cases, as well as the intricacies of legal arguments. His client roster of Hollywood celebs peppers the book with enjoyable glitter. His mission, he declares, is to fight for victims of unscrupulous media, both print and electronic, and in 2017, he successfully handled first lady Melania Trump’s defamation case against the British Daily Mail. The author’s clear admiration for her and her husband, President Donald Trump, seems to fuel Harder’s broader criticism of the New York Times and the Washington Post, and his attacks call to mind familiar partisan claims of “fake news.” He also criticizes the lack of positive media coverage of Melania Trump’s “Be Best” anti-bullying campaign, but without addressing common accusations that her husband engaged in prolific Twitter bullying himself.

A legally intriguing memoir, but its good-versus-evil framing strikes occasional discordant notes.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 191

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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