Middling, but readers who can’t get enough dirt on Trump and associates will revel in it.

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SINKING IN THE SWAMP

HOW TRUMP'S MINIONS AND MISFITS POISONED WASHINGTON

A dishy takedown of the mediocrities, charlatans, and grifters populating the corridors of power in D.C.

A trigger warning that there’s naughty language ahead: As Daily Beast investigative reporters Markay and Suebsaeng write, they wanted to call their book Another Shitstorm in Fucktown: The Donald J. Trump Odyssey. Though the powers that be at their agency and publisher said no—think of the Costco and Walmart sales forgone—the authors allow that “we thought it felt like the only title that fully captured the essence of what the Trump era was really like.” There are plenty of people in the capital who won’t talk to the duo: the lieutenants and foot soldiers who enable the current occupant of the White House, men and women whom they refer to as “Trumpworld’s Henry Hills.” The reference, of course, is to the Mafia hit man who served the Lucchese crime family and inspired the film Goodfellas. While the authors aver that their sights are on those loyalists, they can’t keep their eyes off the prize, Trump himself, with his addled visions of being beloved by the show business figures in whose ranks he thinks he belongs. There’s lots of gossipy stuff here that readers may not have found in other sources—e.g., that a game designer sued Trump for ripping off a Monopoly-ish board game or that Trump used to litter the floor of the Apprentice studio with sucked-on Tic Tacs for the sheer joy of knowing that some peon had to clean up after him. The big picture isn’t much different from books such as Bob Woodward’s Fear and David Cay Johnston’s It’s Even Worse Than You Think, but Markay and Suebsaeng are so breathless that it’s like reading Kenneth Anger’s Hollywood Babylon after a healthy diet of Peter Biskind and David Thomson.

Middling, but readers who can’t get enough dirt on Trump and associates will revel in it.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984878-56-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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