Timely and politically spot-on, this is sure to be a popular title.

OFF WITH HER HEAD

THREE THOUSAND YEARS OF DEMONIZING WOMEN IN POWER

A far-reaching history that directly addresses the “misogynist’s handbook” that still plagues women in power.

From Cleopatra and Anne Boleyn to Theresa May and Hillary Clinton, Herman, author of Sex With Kings and Sex With Presidents, addresses the long history of double-standard practices that troublingly persist today. Why do men—and other women—wish to tear down ambitious, intelligent, accomplished women in positions of power, while often treating men in the same positions with deference? “In each woman’s story,” writes the author, “I discovered organized smear operations churning out unfounded accusations of sexual improprieties and criticisms of her ambition, untrustworthiness, appearance, and unlikability, accusations rarely made about male leaders either in the first century BCE or today.” Herman methodically sifts through these often false accusations, most of which follow the “misogynist’s handbook,” which was crafted to “enforce the Patriarchy, a concept so towering it must be capitalized.” In a typically amusing passage, the author writes about a “clear pattern of vilification across the millennia and throughout history to bring down powerful individuals suffering from chronic no-penis syndrome.” She shows how misogyny usually involves a fear of women’s bodies as life-giving forces and the male need to eclipse and harness that mysterious power for their own purposes, and she underscores how many religious traditions emanated from that need to control. Using enlightening humor as well as righteous, well-founded frustration and anger, Herman effectively deconstructs the tendency of men to focus on hair, voice, clothing, and body type rather than pertinent qualifications and accomplishments. Not content to merely call out these biases, the author advocates for the importance of electing more women to public office and getting men to stand up for women in the face of sexism. With chapter titles like “The Alarming Shrillness of Her Voice,” “She’s a Bitch and Other Animals,” and “Additional Tools To Diminish Her,” the text offers a nice balance of serious inquiry and well-placed levity.

Timely and politically spot-on, this is sure to be a popular title.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-309567-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

SO HELP ME GOD

The former vice president reflects warmly on the president whose followers were encouraged to hang him.

Pence’s calm during the Trump years has been a source of bemusement, especially during the administration’s calamitous demise. In this bulky, oddly uncurious political memoir, Pence suggests the source of his composure is simple: frequent prayer and bottomless patience for politicking. After a relatively speedy recap of his personal and political history in Indiana—born-again Christian, conservative radio host, congressman, governor—he remembers greeting the prospect of serving under Trump with enthusiasm. He “was giving voice to the desperation and frustration caused by decades of government mismanagement,” he writes. Recounting how the Trump-Pence ticket won the White House in 2016, he recalls Trump as a fundamentally hardworking president, albeit one who often shot from the hip. Yet Pence finds Trump’s impulsivity an asset, setting contentious foreign leaders and Democrats off-balance. Soon they settled into good cop–bad cop roles; he was “the gentler voice,” while “it was Trump’s job to bring the thunder.” Throughout, Pence rationalizes and forgives all sorts of thundering. Sniping at John McCain? McCain never really took the time to understand him! Revolving-door staffers? He’s running government like a business! That phone call with Ukraine’s president? Overblown! Downplaying the threat Covid-19 presented in early 2020? Evidence, somehow, of “the leadership that President Trump showed in the early, harrowing days of the pandemic.” But for a second-in-command to such a disruptive figure, Pence dwells little on Trump’s motivations, which makes the story’s climax—Trump’s 2020 election denials and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—impossible for him to reconcile. How could such a selfless patriot fall under the sway of bad lawyers and conspiracy theorists? God only knows. Chalk it up to Pence's forgiving nature. In the lengthy acknowledgments he thanks seemingly everybody he’s known personally or politically; but one name’s missing.

Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 9781982190330

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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