The definitive biography of the woman who drove her husband’s presidential ambitions—a shoo-in for the silver screen.

THE TRIUMPH OF NANCY REAGAN

A deep dive into the life of Nancy Reagan (1921-2016).

In a luminous and exhaustive biography, Washington Post political columnist Tumulty chronicles the private life and political influence of Ronald Reagan’s wife. Drawing on interviews with surviving figures from the Reagan years, including George Shultz and James A. Baker, the author vividly captures the personality and impact of the Chicago Gold Coast debutante who became a Hollywood star and then first lady. Tumulty shows us a shrewd, savvy woman. “Hers was the power that comes with intimacy,” writes the author. “The first lady was the essential disinterested observer of the ideological battles and power struggles that went on in the White House, because she had but one preoccupation: Ronald Reagan’s well-being and success.” She was tasked with running the household and keeping up the family’s clean, conservative image: “Ronnie…left all the difficult and contentious parts of parenting to Nancy.” Fostering a strong interest in astrology, she insisted that her husband’s schedule, including dates and even desirability of visits from foreign leaders, align with the readings of San Francisco astrologer Joan Quigley. Tumulty’s riveting narrative transcends such oddities as she leads us through the White House years, with colorful portraits of all of the relevant political players as well as the Reagan children. The author’s chapter on the AIDS crisis is a gem, as she clearly portrays the neglect by the White House, the complexity of the Reagans’ view of homosexuality, and the engagement of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop to anchor the administration’s belated response. Another standout section follows the grim tale of the Iran-Contra scandal, culminating in the Tower report and Reagan’s public apology. Tumulty also assesses some tell-all books from departing staffers as well as Nancy’s own memoir, My Turn (1989). Through it all, Nancy maintained her abiding love for her husband. After his death, she would see visions of him at night.

The definitive biography of the woman who drove her husband’s presidential ambitions—a shoo-in for the silver screen.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6519-1

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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 concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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ON JUNETEENTH

The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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