A penetrating, firsthand view of history.

A timely reminder of a notorious scandal that resulted in a president’s impeachment.

In 1973, Wine-Banks, now a legal analyst for MSNBC and formerly Illinois solicitor general and deputy attorney general, joined a government task force assigned to investigate the Nixon administration’s burglary of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate building. In her absorbing debut memoir, the author recalls her experiences as a young lawyer participating in what was then “the biggest political scandal in US history”: questioning witnesses, wresting tapes from the White House, dealing with blatant sexism from some of her male colleagues and superiors, and, at the same time, facing the deterioration of her marriage. Among the witnesses, Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods proved frustrating for Wine-Banks, who worried that her demeanor in confronting the stalwart Woods reflected her “youth and vulnerability.” Repeatedly questioned about the erasure of 18 minutes from a crucial White House tape, Woods maintained that she had done it accidentally. Also frustrating was the wily Jeb Magruder, whom the author characterizes as a consummate liar, whose testimony was vital for the case. “Often, when I questioned Magruder,” Wine-Banks writes, “I could feel my chest tightening and my voice turning harsh and scolding.” Despite Nixon’s refusal to hand over the key tapes, claiming that no court could “compel a president to any action,” a grand jury, comprised of ordinary Americans, did just that, “unafraid to challenge the president of the United States, the most powerful man in the world.” The author’s portrayal makes the impeachment process, which received bipartisan support, seem almost quaint. Today, she sees history repeating itself in a “more complicated political, social, and cultural landscape than existed in the 1970s.” “Like Nixon,” she writes, “Trump is corrupt, amoral, vindictive, paranoid, ruthless, and narcissistic.” But he is more dangerous, she believes, “because he exceeds Nixon in hatefulness and venality” and “puts in peril the fundamental principles on which our nation was founded.”

A penetrating, firsthand view of history.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-24432-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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