An enlightening look at the political foundations of 20th-century hope.

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BUILDING THE GREAT SOCIETY

INSIDE LYNDON JOHNSON'S WHITE HOUSE

A behind-the-scenes study of Lyndon Baines Johnson’s presidency.

“He was a crass political operator and liberal idealist,” Politico contributing editor Zeitz (Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image, 2014, etc.) writes about his complex subject, “an unbridled opportunist and steadfast champion of the poor, a southern temporizer and civil rights trailblazer, a progressive hero and bête noire of the antiwar Left.” Beginning with John F. Kennedy’s final days and ending with Richard Nixon’s rise to power, the author embarks on a fine-grained exploration of LBJ’s Great Society. More specifically, Zeitz zeroes in on the many players in LBJ’s administration, including, among many others, Jack Valenti, Horace Busby, Bill Moyers, Walter Heller, Richard Goodwin, and Abe Fortas. The author walks readers through the difficulties Johnson encountered passing the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1966, his notorious “War on Poverty,” the implementation of life-changing initiatives such as Medicare, and the relentless situation in Vietnam. Though it’s easy to remember Johnson as the president who led the war in Vietnam, Zeitz reminds us of many other elements of his presidency, especially his efforts to integrate and end race disputes. In what is an extremely detailed account of a highly controversial presidency—one that attempted to address and resolve issues that are, unfortunately, still around today—the author offers his readers a red flag: we must wake up to the fact that many of today’s significant issues are not new, and we must look to the lessons of the past to continue in the footsteps of all those who have tried so hard to build a better society. “Even as this book goes to print,” writes the author, “the enduring value of the Great Society is no longer an academic question or political talking point but instead a real-world concern.” Refreshingly, the only real change today is that women have come to occupy increasingly influential roles in the administrations that followed.

An enlightening look at the political foundations of 20th-century hope.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42878-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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