A mostly dispassionate discussion of an issue that must be addressed.



A timely anecdotal narrative about how every incumbent U.S. president has left office, focusing on departures or near departures under duress.

In each chapter, former CIA officer Priess (The President’s Book of Secrets: The Untold Story of Intelligence Briefings to America’s Presidents, 2016) discusses a discrete path toward departure: rejected by one’s own political party (Presidents Tyler, Fillmore, Pierce, Buchanan, Arthur, and Lyndon Johnson); undermined by opponents and/or subordinates (Nixon); sunk due to general unpopularity (Taft); death by natural causes (Harrison, Taylor, Harding, Franklin Roosevelt); assassination (Lincoln, McKinley, Garfield, Kennedy); temporarily unable to serve due to a traumatic occurrence (Wilson, Eisenhower, Reagan); and impeachment (Andrew Johnson, Clinton). Throughout the book, Priess delves into the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, explaining debates among the Founding Fathers about how much stability to offer a chief executive. Nobody desired an executive with powers so weak as to be ineffective, but at the same time, nobody wanted to be ruled by a monarchy similar to the one from which the country had just won independence. The author makes the historical context relevant through his skilled storytelling, and at the end of the book, he concedes that his research focuses on the “how” of the removal processes without addressing the question of “when.” Although Priess rarely mentions Donald Trump by name, he clearly has the sitting president in mind as he explores the idea of an incumbent president being clearly unfit for office. Of course, he writes, it is inevitable that a centuries-old Constitution cannot be expected to anticipate every permutation of unfitness. As a result, he suggests, without offering specifics, that contemporary policymakers consider amending the Constitution to adapt to current circumstances. Harking back to Abraham Lincoln, Priess writes that government of the people, by the people, and for the people must encompass fair but contemporary means of removing presidents if necessary.

A mostly dispassionate discussion of an issue that must be addressed.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5417-8820-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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