Funny, insightful, and legitimately illuminating.

BLACK MAN, WHITE HOUSE

AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE OBAMA YEARS

The Obama years, through a glass cleverly.

In this faux oral history of the Barack Obama administration, comedian and actor Hughley (I Want You to Shut the F#ck Up: How the Audacity of Dopes is Ruining America, 2012)—writing again with Malice (Dear Reader: The Unauthorized Autobiography of Kim Jong Il, 2014, etc.)—consistently amuses and provides a nifty pocket history of the first African-American president’s tenure. Bill and Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Rahm Emanuel, Mitch McConnell, David Axelrod, and a host of other (slightly) fictionalized key political figures recount Obama’s path from charismatic rising star of the Democratic Party to two-term commander in chief in impressive detail. The running commentary effectively parses the significant events of the Obama presidency through a spectrum of solidly reasoned, clearly delineated opposing perspectives. The humor functions on a higher level than the expected potshots reaffirming media stereotypes of the parties involved (though they are also present); the laughs derive more from the intensity of a respondent’s interpretation of an issue, say, than from facile observations of Biden’s buffoonery, the Clintons’ ruthlessness and appetites, etc. The narrative’s most compelling character is first lady Michelle Obama, presented here as unfailingly reasonable, perceptive, and canny about the realities of Washington, D.C.—e.g., “race has been tripping up politicians of every political persuasion since America became a country”; “I don’t know that electing someone like Governor Romney would really be all that much of a change, given American history.” Offhand lines mocking John Edwards’ sleaziness or Cheney’s viciousness raise chuckles, but it is Michelle’s voice that will stick most with readers: wise, rueful, and human, telling the incredible story of an unprecedented moment in American politics and race relations.

Funny, insightful, and legitimately illuminating.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-239979-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 20, 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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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