A yeoman’s effort in service of an admirable subject in need of more good studies about him.

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GEORGE MARSHALL

A BIOGRAPHY

A biography of George Marshall (1880-1959) focusing on the general’s overall decency rather than his strategic brilliance.

Having inherited this project after the death of historian Hirshson, the Ungers (The Guggenheims, 2005, etc.) make a valiant attempt to cover Marshall’s accomplished military career and his years as President Franklin Roosevelt’s chief of staff and President Harry Truman’s secretary of state. A graduate of Virginia Military Institute and a protégé of Gen. John Pershing, with early postings in the Philippines and China, Marshall, laconic and humorless, could never garner the kind of position as commander of troops that would have ensured a glorious career. He was most effective at training officers in the late 1920s, organizing Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corp in preparation for his move to Washington to take up a position with the War Plans Division and eventually become chief of staff. This indeed is what the authors believe he should best be remembered for: “creating the American World War II army virtually out of nothing.” As Roosevelt’s wartime right arm, Marshall pushed for the “Europe First” agenda and was deemed too valuable at home to spare as supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, yet Marshall’s “complacency” about Japan’s threats on the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack lent his right-wing critics fodder for the rest of his life. The Ungers find him naïve in dealing with the Chinese when sent to negotiate a truce between the Nationalists and the Communists in late 1945; they do not credit him with coming up with the so-called Marshall Plan to help Europe get back on its feet, for which he won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. However, Marshall always remained a devoted and dutiful officer.

A yeoman’s effort in service of an admirable subject in need of more good studies about him.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0060577193

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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