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

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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

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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