A captivating account of a historically momentous time told from a refreshingly uncommon perspective.


A man recounts his time as a teenager working in the White House during the Richard Nixon administration in this memoir.

While a freshman at the American University in Washington, D.C., Stinson landed a job at the White House or, to be more precise, the Old Executive Office Building. This distinctive structure shares the famous address and has “its own breathtaking story to tell.” The author had set his sights on working on Capitol Hill, but the position he won was “not exactly a poor consolation prize.” He had no idea that within 18 months the nation would be rocked by one of its worst scandals in history—the Watergate affair—“the first circus I had the chance to watch from a ringside seat.” Stinson quietly, almost anonymously, watched grand events unfold, a naïve witness—“woefully short in the dashing department”— to “a certain madness in the air” that overtook the country. He provides a conventional history of those turbulent times, wisely leaving the “lengthy and often intricate details that led to President Nixon’s resignation” to scholars and other authors. Instead, he furnishes his own idiosyncratically personal perspective, brimming with tantalizing gossip, character portraiture, and the astute, if green, observations of an inexperienced youth. He reservedly allows readers to form their own opinions about Nixon and his legacy, choosing to supply his own impressions of the man at the time, movingly conveyed: “Just listening to him was exhilarating, like punching the accelerator on a Lamborghini. Perhaps I felt that way because I was very young and hadn’t yet learned to demystify the people and things we think are larger than life.” Likewise, he paints a lively picture of Vice President Spiro Agnew as well as an array of other key political figures, domestic and international.

Stinson’s prose is unfailingly clear and his tone endearingly self-effacing, though his relentless quips eventually become more grating than ingratiating. His unique perch—sort of an insider given his proximity to it all but also an outsider by virtue of his professional insignificance—is simultaneously the memoir’s chief strength and weakness: “The truth about being ‘in the know’ was that most of us at the bottom of the food chain weren’t. Ever. We rarely knew more than what we read in the newspapers or saw on television unless we stumbled across something by accident or somebody said something they shouldn’t have.” Especially because he so admired Nixon and Agnew, readers will keenly feel the weight of the author’s disappointment when both resigned. The remembrance is filled with extraordinary anecdotes—on the last evening of Nixon’s tenure, while the president was composing his resignation speech, Stinson mistakenly attempted to deliver a communication to the Oval Office intended for the flower shop. Problematically, the book often loses focus and delves too deeply into granular, quotidian details; readers really don’t need to know how the author became a Pepsi drinker.

A captivating account of a historically momentous time told from a refreshingly uncommon perspective.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-692-95253-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Eastern Harbor Press LLC

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2020

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.


A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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