A timely, engaging political account about the consequences of saying nothing and speaking up.



A woman describes a career of navigating predatory men in this debut political memoir.

Hinton knows politics. After covering it as a newspaper reporter, she served as a press secretary in Washington, D.C., and New York City for the likes of Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio. The author is all too familiar with what she terms “penis politics,” the tendency of men in authority to use their gender as a means of dominating the women around them. “In politics,” she writes, “there’s a toxic brew of ego, entitlement, power, testosterone, and a ‘bro culture’ that is especially difficult for women to navigate.” Hinton recounts that she got her first taste of such behavior before she ever left her hometown of Soso, Mississippi, where one of her high school's basketball coaches assaulted one of her teammates. The author and her friends said nothing, a decision that would resound throughout her life whenever other men, from novelist William Styron to Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, attempted to use their stature to intimidate Hinton. This memoir is a reckoning of such moments, from the author’s teenage years racing passing trains to get faster for basketball to her college years studying journalism and political science at Ole Miss. After a brief career as a journalist, she got to Washington, D.C., by working for the first Black congressman elected from Mississippi since Reconstruction, Mike Espy. Her time as press secretary for Cuomo, when he was assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, was a heady mix of work she believed in—such as trying to help Black churches rebuild following arsons in her home state—and her boss’s lewd jokes and bullying behavior. What’s more, while working for de Blasio during his tenure as New York City mayor, Hinton found herself in the middle of an awkward feud between her old boss—now the governor of New York—and her new one.

Hinton’s prose is sharp and incisive. She is adept at setting a scene and bringing people to life on the page. She captures the aggressive culture of American politics, as here, in one incident from the Cuomo–de Blasio feud: “Either Andrew or someone on the Cuomo team offered grudging respect for the approach in a Politico article: ‘There’s a clear belief that Karen helped de Blasio grow a pair,’ said one source. I could play penis politics, too, from time to time.” The book will perhaps be of greatest interest for the author’s experiences with Cuomo, which generally fit with the portrait of him that has emerged over the past year. According to Hinton, when she began the process of adopting her daughter, Cuomo sidelined her career at HUD. The author’s experiences working for Black candidates in Mississippi—particularly in helping them improve their images with White voters—are also captivating windows into a still-relevant area of American politics. Throughout the memoir, Hinton returns to the story of her friend who was assaulted by a coach and the shape that girl’s life took afterward, using it as a way to discuss the long-lasting consequences that predatory men with power can have on the lives of the women around them.

A timely, engaging political account about the consequences of saying nothing and speaking up.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73621-169-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Sartoris Literary Group

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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

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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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