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TEAM OF FIVE

THE PRESIDENTS CLUB IN THE AGE OF TRUMP

A digressive, unsurprising overview of presidential afterlife.

Former presidents find ways to reinvent themselves.

Five presidents witnessed Donald Trump’s election: George H.W. Bush, his son George, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama. Journalist Brower, contributor to CNN, Bloomberg News, and CBS News, strains to find commonality among them aside from their inhabiting the Oval Office and refraining from criticizing the men who succeeded them. “Though we hail from different backgrounds and ideologies,” Bush I once remarked, “we’re singularly unique, even eternally bound, by our common devotion and service to this wonderful country.” Despite Bush’s comment, Brower presents no evidence for anything other than “a sense of empathy for each other”—no Team of Five (Four, now that Bush I has died), no Presidents Club, although the past presidents do assemble for events such as a state funeral or the opening of a presidential library. The author’s research included a visit with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, speaking with Laura and Barbara Bush, and sitting for one interview with Donald Trump; she also interviewed more than 100 aides, family members, and White House residence staff. Most anecdotes and gossip, though, seem derived from published news articles, memoirs, and biographies. All reveal the diverse paths these men, and their first ladies, followed once they left the White House. Clinton missed drawing a crowd but soon took to the podium, earning hefty speaking fees. The Obamas vacationed lavishly and received huge advances for their memoirs. The Carters devoted themselves to their philanthropic Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity. Brower includes Truman, Nixon, Ford, and LBJ in her purview as well. Among the topics she considers: how each presidential family handled the transition to and from the White House, redecorated their new homes, dealt with the “astronomical” cost of presidential libraries, prepared or sheltered their children from being in the public eye, and reacted to Trump’s strident criticism.

A digressive, unsurprising overview of presidential afterlife. (two 8-page color inserts)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-266897-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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