A fast-paced, optimistic memoir.

AND ALL THE QUEEN'S MEN

An unabashedly honest, introspective and moving debut memoir focusing on the author’s relationships with the men in her life.

Sessa grew up in a Philadelphia suburb, dealing with her long-suffering mother and emotionally abusive father—a central influence on her later outlook on relationships. However, her family lived a life of luxury, traveling around the country and spending summers in Beverly Hills, Calif. While vacationing there as a teenager, the author met Ellis, a handsome man from a wealthy family whom, due to pressure from her father, she married while still a teenager. Although at first she was dazzled by Ellis and his lavish relations, her naïveté, youth and unhappiness soon became evident: “[B]ehind this illusion, evenings and weekends with Ellis seemed endless, like sitting in a stalled car.” After several years in an unhappy marriage, she divorced Ellis and married Myles, a doctor who was far more charming and sexually compatible. Soon, however, her second marriage felt like a prison, and she grew to despise her husband’s sexual advances and hostility. She threw herself into her career as a TV commercial producer in New York City and took several lovers as a means of escape. Twenty years later, she divorced Myles and dated a series of boyfriends, including Aaron, an attractive ad executive, and Art, a retired art dealer. Through these men, the author writes, she learned how to be in a loving relationship while balancing her own independence and aspirations. She experienced true love, heartbreak, anger, and even the death of a close friend before she married her third husband, Joe, with whom she says she’s the happiest. Sessa is a talented storyteller, and her candid, poignant and often sassy prose allows readers to relate to her young-adult immaturity, her later pain and frustration and her eventual joy. She successfully weaves together her different experiences with men into a powerful, thought-provoking message: One must turn mistakes into positives in order to grow and learn from one’s past.

A fast-paced, optimistic memoir.

Pub Date: July 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1939447012

Page Count: 364

Publisher: Dunham Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

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A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

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PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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