An artfully rendered, suspenseful look at an imaginary turn in Nixon’s presidency.

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A historical novel that cleverly postulates an alternate reality in which President Richard Nixon refuses to resign.

The author, former chief of staff to Nixon, is well-positioned to pen a novel based on Nixon’s drama-ridden presidency. Taylor’s (Patterns of Abuse, 1988) second book follows the events on the day Nixon announced his intention to vacate the White House in 1974. In this version, without informing his closest advisers, Nixon decides to remain in the Oval Office. In order to properly defend himself against his Watergate accusers, the president invokes the 25th Amendment, which allows him to temporarily hand over his executive powers to Vice President Gerald Ford. Only one person, an unheralded and green staffer, Emily Weissman, seems to be in the know; Nixon asked her to help him craft his bombshell remarks. What ensues is the chaos that often accompanies uncertainty. Will Nixon’s unprecedented transfer of power generate the appearance of national weakness, potentially emboldening North Vietnam to defy a standing peace accord with the South? Will a battered Republican Party, likely to lose even more ground in the upcoming congressional elections, be further demoralized or find renewal in Nixon’s intransigence? Even mundane practical matters seem difficult to settle decisively: Does the Constitution mandate that Ford be sworn in? Emily, a staunch Nixon loyalist, is the beating heart of the narrative, rising to the challenge of history-making. And to complicate matters, she falls for a calculating Reagan operative who takes the other side in an internecine war brewing within the Republican Party. The prose is razor-sharp and historically astute, and the dialogue is crisp and witty. Consider this gem from the staff secretary at the National Security Council; he’s talking to the White House operator after Nixon handed the baton to Ford: “ ‘This is Mr. Szabados at the NSC. May I please speak with the president?’ ‘Which one?’ she said. ‘The one who bombed Cambodia.’ ”

An artfully rendered, suspenseful look at an imaginary turn in Nixon’s presidency.

Pub Date: July 17, 2014

ISBN: 978-1499530834

Page Count: 312

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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