An irreverent yet thoughtful macho adventure reflecting the tumult of a fast-fading era.

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THE GREATEST BEER RUN EVER

A MEMOIR OF FRIENDSHIP, LOYALTY, AND WAR

The story of a patriotic prankster’s freelance incursion into Vietnam, bringing cheer (and beer) to Americans at war.

As Molloy notes in the introduction, “Chick” Donohue seems an archetypal two-fisted, old-school New Yorker, a military veteran who’d become a Teamster and tunnel “sandhog.” In 1967, then a Marine veteran and merchant mariner, he accepted an outsized challenge at Doc Fiddler’s Bar in the Irish enclave of Inwood: to bring beer to neighborhood youth serving in Vietnam. “I was spurred to go to Vietnam,” writes Donohue, “by the sight of antiwar demonstrators in Central Park protesting against my friends from the neighborhood who were serving in the military. Having served overseas in the marines myself, I could only imagine what my buddies were feeling.” This tale seems improbable even by the standards of military yarns, but the narrative gains authenticity from the credible perspectives of the young American soldiers as well as the gritty sense of place. Sailing from New York to Vietnam, Chick found friends from Inwood, who reacted with humorous disbelief. Dramatic tension increases with the authors’ account of Chick’s observing combat patrols firsthand. He missed his ship and was stranded in Saigon just before the Tet Offensive, witnessing the enemy attack on the U.S. Embassy. Stuck in a war zone, Chick scrounged food and lodging from old friends and colorful new acquaintances, his views transformed alongside American soldiers’ worsening fortunes: “I had believed that we were winning....But our leaders had told us Charlie was losing the war, and then they pop up all over the country? Tet changed everything.” Finally, Chick escaped aboard a supply ship that needed crew following the attacks—“I was never so happy to be below deck in a hot engine room”—and he acknowledges his changed perspective: “I wanted to go home...and all the mariners and all the soldiers in Vietnam to go home.” Indeed, a poignant afterword highlights the fortunes of the soldiers encountered on Donohue’s beer run, not all of whom returned.

An irreverent yet thoughtful macho adventure reflecting the tumult of a fast-fading era.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299546-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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

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

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