A sobering and sometimes maddening play-by-play of Bill Clinton's abortive crusade to reform health care. Clinton came into office, note Washington-based journalists Johnson (Divided We Fall, 1994) and Broder (Changing of the Guard, 1980), committed to making sweeping changes so that all citizens would have access to health care. However, despite his charisma, a Democratic-controlled Congress, and opinion polls showing that most Americans favored such reforms, Clinton emerged from the battle badly scarred. Johnson and Broder show that several scarcely controllable factors collided to produce the rejection of his 1,342-page bill of reform. Among them were the Republican backlash then being orchestrated by Newt Gingrich in a successful bid to become speaker of the House; lobbyists' adoption of new techniques of buying political access and manipulating public opinion; the failure of White House staffers, led by left-leaning policymaker Ira Magaziner, to communicate their ideas effectively; competition among leading Democrats to introduce health-care packages of their own; and a highly effective campaign, spearheaded by Rush Limbaugh, to discredit Bill and Hillary Clinton, so that teacup-size tempests like Whitewater came to overshadow the Clintons' legislative effort. Most of all, however, Clinton failed to reckon with the power of vested interests and of the so-called Gingrich revolution. The defeat was titanic—Clinton scarcely mentions health care these days—but the Republican victory may have been Pyrrhic: As the authors write, ``one year after the House Republicans signed their Contract with America, Congress had failed to pass 11 of 13 appropriations bills needed to keep the federal government operating, and half of the Contract's provisions were stalled by opposition or inaction.'' Hundreds of actors wander on and off stage in a sweeping narrative that deftly underscores the crisis of confidence now troubling our political system. (Author tour)

Pub Date: May 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-316-46969-6

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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