A must-read for political junkies but not compelling enough for the large, but exhausted, population of never-Trumpers.

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TRUMPOCALYPSE

RESTORING AMERICAN DEMOCRACY

Following up Trumpocracy (2018), Frum looks at the Trump administration’s effect on the country and the possible consequences of the 2020 election.

In his previous book, the author, a speechwriter and special assistant to George W. Bush and now a staff writer for the Atlantic, showed how the Trump campaign and administration had already seriously damaged American institutions during his first year in office. Here, Frum uses his powers of analysis—and his outrage—to flesh out the myriad examples of what he considers to be a toxic combination of perfidy and stupidity. This includes Trump’s relentless bullying of individuals, groups, and countries; his poorly conceived foreign policy via Twitter; his threats to unleash his rabid followers on a supposedly disloyal electorate; and, above all, his harm to American judicial and security agencies. Still, the author has hopes for a brighter, Trump-free future. Examining elements of social reform, health care, and climate change, Frum lays out potential solutions that are surprisingly progressive, especially for a self-styled conservative. His political swing from loyal Republican to independent thinker is, he asserts, shared by others. “Former allies find themselves at dagger’s point; former adversaries find more in common,” he writes. “It’s much more likely that George W. Bush and Barack Obama will vote for the same candidate in 2020 than it is that George W. Bush and Donald Trump will vote for the same candidate.” This is a thoughtful analysis of current troubles and future opportunities, but it will interest only those who aren’t sated by the constant analysis offered by newspapers and cable TV. While Frum is more eloquent than many, he covers much of the same ground, and his suggested policy points, though interesting, are a relatively small part of the book.

A must-read for political junkies but not compelling enough for the large, but exhausted, population of never-Trumpers.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-297841-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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