An entertaining and informative account of a footnote to the life of one of the 20th century’s most charismatic leaders.

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TROTSKY IN NEW YORK, 1917

PORTRAIT OF A RADICAL ON THE EVE OF REVOLUTION

An account of the two months in 1917 when Leon Trotsky “found refuge in the United States,” where he experienced the “last gasp of the Belle Epoque.”

"BRONX MAN LEADS RUSSIAN REVOLUTION.” This unlikely headline ran in the Bronx Home News in November 1917. The spring revolution in Russia that had deposed the czar saw Vladimir Lenin stuck in Zurich and Trotsky in New York City, where he was writing for a Russian-language socialist newspaper. An escaped convict in Russia and persona non grata in most of wartime Europe, Trotsky had been deported earlier in the year from Spain to the neutral United States, which viewed him as just another unknown Eastern European immigrant. He was in the U.S. just over two months when the Kerensky government declared an amnesty for political prisoners. Trotsky immediately joined a flood of exiles returning to his homeland, where, by the end of the year, he was Commissar of Foreign Affairs in the revolutionary communist government. During his brief American sojourn, the irrepressible Trotsky jumped with both feet into local politics, where his fiery speeches and articles provoked a split in the American Socialist Party as it considered its response to the onrushing war. Attorney and amateur historian Ackerman (Young J. Edgar: Hoover and the Red Scare, 1919-1920, 2007, etc.) creates a lively portrait of this tireless agitator adjusting his personal life and his politics to a strange country a few months before the Bolsheviks seized power at home. In boisterous prose well-matched to his topic, the author also convincingly evokes the social ferment of New York's huge immigrant community: polyglot, united in hatred of the czarist government, and receptive to socialism but arguing endlessly and urgently about political theory and strategy. Ackerman succeeds in presenting Trotsky's little-known weeks in New York as an absorbing adventure, though much greater adventures lay ahead.

An entertaining and informative account of a footnote to the life of one of the 20th century’s most charismatic leaders.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61902-607-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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

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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