A fair and balanced portrait of one of America’s most controversial organizations.

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THE NRA

THE UNAUTHORIZED HISTORY

A gun-owning investigative journalist’s history of the National Rifle Association.

Smyth admits he’s a “Fudd,” a derisive NRA term for a gun owner who supports gun regulations. As befits that nuanced stance, the author offers a measured, scrupulously researched political history that shows how the NRA has evolved from an organization promoting rifle marksmanship to an unrelenting foe of all limits on guns. Smyth blends a great-man approach to history with an instinct for following money trails, telling the story of the NRA largely through its leaders and how their financial or other decisions shaped the group and the nation. First came founders George Wood Wingate and William Conant Church, former Union officers who, dismayed by “the appalling lack of marksmanship on both sides in the Civil War,” started the group during Reconstruction. The 20th century brought presidents like Harlon B. Carter, a convicted murderer whose conviction was overturned on appeal; and Marion Hammer, the first female president, who, after the 1992 Rodney King riots, wrote an article called “You loot—we shoot” for NRA publication American Rifleman. The current leader, Wayne LaPierre, has recruited celebrities like Charlton Heston and turned the group into a deep-pocketed political titan that gave $54.4 million to candidates in the 2016 elections. After the Columbine massacre in 1999, the NRA developed “a playbook” for responding to demands for gun controls, which included tactics such as: “Deflect by saying this is not a time to discuss politics but a time to mourn.” Many such unsavory details will be maddening to gun rights absolutists, but Smyth avoids quoting anonymous sources, drawing on well-documented material and staying neutral (and above accusations of bias) on controversies. The result is an authoritative, no-frills story, long on solid information but short on the color and passion that might have made it sing.

A fair and balanced portrait of one of America’s most controversial organizations. (first printing of 200,000) (Adult, nonfiction, history, political history, organizations, National Rifle Association)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21028-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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