A well-written, deeply informed account of the long battle to steer the Supreme Court rightward.

DISSENT

THE RADICALIZATION OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND ITS CAPTURE OF THE COURT

An investigation of the stumbling path by which Brett Kavanaugh was installed on the Supreme Court.

The conservative movement has been playing a very long game when it comes to the judiciary, writes Calmes, who spent four decades reporting on the White House and Congress for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. Since the Reagan era, the GOP has taken every opportunity to pack the courts with judges who are reliably anti-abortion, anti-regulation, and pro-gun. Since the 1990s, writes the author, the Republican Party has “moved so far to the right that it was on the wrong side of history on many issues”—and yet it has stubbornly stuck to that wrongness. George Bush’s putatively compassionate conservatism became a quest for privatizing Social Security while Donald Trump’s ideology seemed driven by a desire to be America’s first king. As Calmes reminds us, Trump was able to place three justices on the Supreme Court bench, “the first justices in history to be first, chosen by a president who’d failed to win the popular vote and, second, confirmed by a majority of senators with fewer votes—many millions fewer—than the senators who voted ‘no.’ ” In the case of Kavanaugh, that vote count amounted to nearly 25 million. That hardly mattered to GOP leadership, who only cared that he was a conservative Christian who, in his work as a federal judge, “predictably favored corporations, police, and executive power”—as long as the executive power was wielded by a Republican. In Trump’s eyes, of course, this made Kavanaugh the perfect man for the job even though, Calmes notes, advisers (including daughter Ivanka) urged him to find someone of higher moral character. Trump didn’t, and five Republican senators lost their seats because of their support for Kavanaugh.

A well-written, deeply informed account of the long battle to steer the Supreme Court rightward.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-0079-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

more