Political junkies will delight in this rollicking history containing lessons applicable to our contemporary political...

LET THE PEOPLE RULE

THEODORE ROOSEVELT AND THE BIRTH OF THE PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY

The history of the 1912 battle among Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Robert La Follette for the presidency of the United States, which gave birth to the first presidential primary.

Cowan (Annenberg Family Chair in Communication Leadership/Univ. of Southern California; The People v. Clarence Darrow: The Bribery Trial of America's Greatest Lawyer, 1993, etc.) brings to life the wheeler-dealers, back-alley shenanigans, and political intrigue embedded within this legislative saga. He ably shows how the resulting primary system continues to affect our current political theater. Readers’ perceptions of Roosevelt and his motivations may change a bit after reading Cowan’s assessment of him. The author notes that his interest in writing the book lay in what transpired when Roosevelt created the Bull Moose Party, which bore the slogan of “the right of the people to rule,” and then proceeded to exclude black delegations from the states comprising the Deep South. Though Cowan’s portrait of Roosevelt forms the core of the book, the author fleshes out the personalities and motivations of many other influential characters. Cowan’s straightforward explanation of the role played by the prominent newspapers of the era provides an entertaining lens for viewing how outside influences create opinion and help contribute to the process of a presidential election. Readers who may feel overwhelmed by today’s political climate should take heart in noting how the past was not all that much different. “Insiders knew that the convention itself—the fight over the temporary roll, over the permanent chairmanship, even over the credentials challenges—was theater, for effect, for public consumption,” writes Cowan, whose use of material “from dozens of previously unknown and unused manuscript collections,” adds depth to his portrait of Roosevelt and the social and cultural environments from which the presidential primary emerged.

Political junkies will delight in this rollicking history containing lessons applicable to our contemporary political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-393-24984-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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