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LIFE IN THE MARBLE PALACE

IN PRAISE OF FOLLY

An assemblage of admirably forthcoming first-person essays about the practice of American legislation.

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A former Republican congressman recalls a lifetime of public service.

Debut author Stearns served as the U.S. representative for Florida’s 6th Congressional District for 24 years, his longevity alone a notable accomplishment. He wrote this memoir episodically over the course of eight years, while still in office, and it’s less a linear history than a series of reflective essays on his experiences and the inner machinations of American legislation, as well as the general nature of freedom, democracy, and religion. Much of the book serves as an instructive primer on American governance, an insider’s civic tutorial. Stearns not only explains the basic structure of the nation’s legislative branch—with emphasis on the function of the House—but also the mechanics of fund-raising and campaigning, the extraordinary significance of committee membership, and the often mercenary character of intraparty competition. The author unabashedly shares his opinion, even when it’s forcefully critical of a colleague; he excoriates Dennis Hastert’s reign as speaker of the House, especially for his misguided contributions to the economic catastrophe that visited the country at the conclusion of George W. Bush’s presidency. Stearns also denounces the Bush administration’s bailout of the banking industry, a strategy, the author contends, that undermines the Republican Party’s commitment to free market principles. (Stearns takes a hard stand against both socialism and Keynesian economics, which share the aggrandizement of government at the expense of individual liberty.) Some of the remembrances are directed analytically at special policy proposals (ObamaCare turns out to be incorrigibly bad) or major events in recent political history (President Bill Clinton’s impeachment and the Iraq War provide fodder for memorable discussions). But some of the best of Stearns’ ruminations are surprisingly erudite—he often cites intellectual luminaries like Aristotle, Kant, Seneca, and Herodotus, to name a few—and philosophical. He deeply ponders the nature of freedom and divine law, and the relation both have to the fallible dictates of majority rule. It’s not fully clear where Stearns finally lands in that theoretical thicket—he champions limited government, but also favors a robust place for religion in the public square. Even for those who count themselves the author’s ideological adversaries, this work delivers a thoughtful appraisal of American democracy and an edifying peek into the corridors of political power.

An assemblage of admirably forthcoming first-person essays about the practice of American legislation. 

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4602-8760-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2016

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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