A well-researched, sharp biography.




An independent scholar of Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) history explores the life and work of the first Native American actress, Red Wing (1884-1974).

Born Lilian St. Cyr on the Ho-Chunk Reservation, Red Wing came of age at a time when the U.S. government refused to recognize Native Americans as full citizens. Orphaned at age 4, she was sent to “the Homes,” a boarding school in Philadelphia dedicated to preparing Native American children for lives as servants of the “Great [White] Father.” It was here that she first began to perform for white audiences fascinated by the culture of the “noble savage.” She graduated from the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in 1902 and worked for a time as a domestic in Washington, D.C., and then married James Johnson. The couple went to upstate New York in 1906, where the author hypothesizes that St. Cyr sold her beadwork to tourists caught up in the “Indian craze” sweeping the country. That fall, they went to New York City, where they began crafting theatrical personas for themselves. St. Cyr became Princess Red Wing, and Johnson became Young Deer, in part to hide his African American background. Red Wing landed her first role in the musical Pioneer Days. After that, the couple performed in Wild West vaudeville shows until 1909, when then began working for East Coast–based film companies. They moved to California soon after, and Red Wing worked with screen legends Tom Mix and Max Sennett, and her husband made films. Over the next half-decade, the actress honed the Indian princess role—which Waggoner astutely points out also supported racist stereotypes of the faithful, self-sacrificing Native woman—to perfection. At the height of her fame, she starred in two silent-era classics: Cecil B. DeMille’s The Squaw Man (1914) and Donald Crisp’s Ramona (1916). Illustrated with black-and-white photographs, this lively biography pays long-overdue tribute to a forgotten star of the silent era while celebrating Native American contributions to the motion picture industry.

A well-researched, sharp biography.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4962-1559-8

Page Count: 504

Publisher: Bison/Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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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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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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