An exhaustive study that leaves open the question of whether the Biden administration can maintain a steadier hand.

CHAOS UNDER HEAVEN

TRUMP, XI, AND THE BATTLE FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

Breaking down the messy nature of Donald Trump’s hard-line China policy and how China took advantage of the relationship.

The last four years of the American government’s stance regarding China was largely guided by the realization that the prior 40-year experiment of engagement and accommodation was not working. China simply did not want political liberalization, and growing evidence revealed that the Chinese Communist Party was infiltrating many facets of American society, from universities to Silicon Valley to Wall Street. As Washington Post foreign policy columnist Rogin shows in meticulous, depressing detail, even though candidate Trump’s aggressive approach effectively called out the authoritarian regime, the administration’s “dysfunction and the president’s behavior” led to erratic results. From the beginning, Trump loyalists like Jared Kushner—guided by Steve Mnuchin and other “pro-business players”—and Steve Bannon fashioned themselves as China experts. Regarding Bannon, the author writes, “it takes real nerve to lead a populist, anti-China movement when you started as a Goldman Sachs executive—and when you have already made your money in China before turning against the system that made that possible. After he left Goldman, Bannon worked for…a Hong Kong startup…[that] used cheap labor in China to mine virtual goods inside computer games to sell for real-world money.” On the other hand, Matthew Pottinger, National Security Council senior director for Asia, managed to craft an intelligible policy and was one of the few who stuck it out for all four years of Trump’s presidency. Rogin delineates how, by 2018, hawks like Mike Pompeo and Mike Pence overruled the pro-business faction, leading to the implementation of tariffs and an all-out trade war. The spread of Covid-19, which Trump repeatedly dubbed the “China virus,” as well as the violent suppression in Hong Kong ensured that U.S.–China relations reached a low point by the 2020 election. It doesn’t make for heartening reading, but Rogin covers it comprehensively.

An exhaustive study that leaves open the question of whether the Biden administration can maintain a steadier hand.

Pub Date: March 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-39324-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: March 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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