Next book



An incisive, intellectually thorough analysis of one of the country’s most pressing political problems.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A former Democratic congressman reflects on the nation’s pernicious partisanship and offers some remedies.

There’s been no shortage of ink spilled on the deep ideological rift that seems to split the country into warring halves. But debut author Altmire, who served three terms in the House of Representatives, contends that the problem of political polarization isn’t chiefly the result of an increasingly partisan electorate. In fact, he avers, the average American is far more moderate than those who typically represent her. Rather, there are systemic reasons why the extreme, most ideologically monolithic voters dominate both the elections and public discourse. Political campaigns pinpoint the most energetic voters—who are also generally the most doctrinaire—and campaign finance laws exacerbate the situation by promoting the outsized influence of Super PACS that operate in the shadows. Closed primaries also disenfranchise political centrists and elevate the status of fringe voters. To make matters worse, studies indicate the profound power of widespread confirmation bias, or the psychological tendency to selectively curate only the information that flatters one’s unshakeable convictions, a predilection reinforced by the news and social media. The author discusses his own experiences with partisan dysfunction, regarding both fundraising and governing, and his participation in the historic vote on The Affordable Care Act is one of the highlights of the book. Altmire suggests several practical solutions to toxic tendentiousness that include limits on senatorial filibusters and congressional gerrymandering as well as requirements for schools to offer more civics courses. He also places a priority on reversing the trend toward low voter turnout, which only enhances the clout of reliably voting ideologues, and the incentive for demagogues to aim their messages at them. Altmire earned a reputation for being a centrist politician, and his philosophical temperance is impressive; it’s fitting that a book extoling the virtues of bipartisanship is itself an exemplar of it. And while many of the author’s proposals cover familiar ground, others are bold and even provocatively counterintuitive, like removing the limits on financial contributions to parties as a means of reducing the influence of partisan donors and increasing transparency. The entire work is written in an unpretentiously accessible style and represents precisely the kind of open-minded public discourse to which citizens should all aspire.

An incisive, intellectually thorough analysis of one of the country’s most pressing political problems.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62006-754-3

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Sunbury Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

Next book


This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

Next book



An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

Close Quickview