THE CONSERVATIVE REVOLUTION

THE MOVEMENT THAT REMADE AMERICA

An unabashedly ideological political history by a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. You would think that only people living under rocks for the last 20 years would be surprised to learn of conservative strength in recent American politics and that this success obviates the need for paranoia about liberal influence, but Edwards (Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution, 1995, etc.) disagrees. In his view, liberal biases have prevented recognition of the triumph of conservatism, and he is out to set the record straight. His presentation is colored throughout by the assumption that politics is a battle of good (conservatives) vs. evil (liberals), with predictable results. Consider negative political campaigns, for example. Lyndon Johnson’s ads attacking Barry Goldwater are denounced with the comment that for Johnson “extremism in the pursuit of the presidency was no vice”; George Bush’s ads attacking Michael Dukakis are praised as “the most effective negative ads in presidential campaigning since the Democrats in 1964,” with the Willie Horton ads downplayed as the work of an independent PAC. The loose chronological organization features three conservative heroes, Robert Taft, Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan, and a host of lesser figures, ranging from Joseph McCarthy to Newt Gingrich. Throughout the discussion, the critical steps in building the coalition that eventually put Reagan in the White House are noted, with no hint that there might be tensions between, for example, Goldwater’s commitment to individual freedom and the moral agenda of social conservatives. The question that is addressed is whether or not conservative critics of government can govern effectively when in positions of leadership, and Edwards’s answer is, of course, yes. However, citing the strong record of conservative governors administering state governments leaves hanging the question of conservative leadership in Washington and constitutes a rather weak conclusion. Readers who share Edwards’s assumptions and dislike subtle analyses that might challenge them will find this book an enjoyable read and an essential history of recent American politics.

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-684-83500-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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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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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 Books

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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