A fun memoir for political junkies of all stripes.

HEELS IN THE ARENA

LIVING PURPLE IN A RED/BLUE TOWN

An insider shares her experiences climbing the Washington, D.C., power ladder, ultimately reaching the position of special assistant to the president for legislative affairs and working in the White House.

Hantman begins her debut memoir with a grabber that’s hard to top: “It’s a Friday in November 2005, and I’m at work. Today that means I’m sitting on Air Force One in the office of the President of the United States, who is sitting at his desk across the cabin from me.” She was at the pinnacle of a career that was sparked at a small Ohio college, where she majored in prelaw. The college’s admissions director offered her a ticket to the George H.W. Bush presidential inauguration: “I was as excited as you can imagine a bookworm, prelaw, watch-Congressional-hearings-in-the-pool type of girl would be.” From that point on, her goal was to work in Washington. She scored a summer internship with Connie Mack, a newly elected Republican senator from Florida; went to law school at Georgetown; and, in 1994, was hired as Mack’s legislative counsel. The author describes these years with her usual mix of respect for the work and enjoyable, equal-opportunity snark: “The new Speaker of the House was Newt Gingrich, who cared about comity and bipartisanship about as much as a Kardashian cares about particle physics.” Next came a four-year stint at a law (lobbying) firm with a “powerhouse government affairs practice.” In 2002, she became Attorney General John Ashcroft’s deputy assistant attorney general for legislative affairs. Later, she was appointed special assistant to President George W. Bush. The engaging book is filled with bold name politicos (and a host of Hollywood glitterati). Dozens of rich, carefully curated anecdotes include some that are certainly unflattering to a few bigwigs, although they are never salacious. Those who favor the left side of the aisle are likely to be dismayed by several of Hantman’s accomplishments—she was instrumental in ushering Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito through their confirmation hearings. But she was not a total partisan: During those years, she was dating (and later married) Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer’s chief of staff.

A fun memoir for political junkies of all stripes.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5445-0511-4

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Federal Hall Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

DEAR MR. HENSHAW

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

Did you like this book?

more