A fully immersive, creatively formatted appreciation for an indefatigable politician and people’s champion.

TAKE UP SPACE

THE UNPRECEDENTED AOC

A unique portrait of one of the Democratic Party’s powerhouses.

This bright, photo-heavy biography creatively spans the life of Ocasio-Cortez (b. 1989) from her youth through her groundbreaking political career. At the heart of the book is Miller’s impassioned, four-part minibiography of the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress. Born in the Bronx to a Puerto Rican American Catholic family, Ocasio-Cortez excelled early in school. She was a “brown-skinned, opinionated, but guarded,” science-minded girl who went by Sandy, and she relentlessly honed her inquisitive nature into the “precocious insistence that would later become a trademark.” She entered Boston University in 2007 as a pre-med student, but her interest in politics grew after an internship with Ted Kennedy and, later, involvement with Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. She was elected to the House of Representatives at 28, backed by progressive grassroots organizations amid the “dystopian” nightmares of the Trump era. Following the biographical sections, the book presents diverse perspectives from a variety of contributors, including Josh Gondelman, Michelle Ruiz, Andrew Rice, Rebecca Traister, David Wallace-Wells, Pia Guerra, and Andrea González-Ramírez. Pages of art, opinion, photography, congressional testimony, and transcripts of seminal speeches deepen the chronicle of Ocasio-Cortez’s heritage, personal life, and career aspirations and accomplishments. A graphic novel–style section details her engagement with the U.S.–Mexico border ordeal, and the concluding pages include her Instagram Live speech, which “had a now-familiar rhetorical shape, moving from an intimate sermon to a fire-and-brimstone speech, as always without notes and in almost perfect spoken paragraphs.” Regardless of political inclination, readers interested in learning Ocasio-Cortez’s full story will find a variety of ways to do so in this thorough and creative biography of an outspoken, unflinchingly confident leader from the Bronx who upended Democratic politics in her 20s. It’s the most complete picture we will likely have until she writes a memoir.

A fully immersive, creatively formatted appreciation for an indefatigable politician and people’s champion.

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6697-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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