An autobiography of the Louisiana-born congresswoman (written with freelance writer Hatch), whose purple veil unfortunately casts too rosy a glow over 50 years of US history. At 24, Lindy Boggs came to Washington, D.C., from Louisiana with her newly elected husband, Democratic congressman Hale Boggs, in 1941. FDR was starting his third term, Europe was at war, and Pearl Harbor was around the corner. She didn't leave Washington until 1992, as Clinton was preparing to take office. Hale, who became House majority leader, died in a plane crash in Alaska in 1972; Lindy Boggs was elected to his congressional seat and held it for 20 years. Boggs was at the political center through wars (WW II, Korea, Vietnam), domestic revolutions (the civil rights and women's movements), and international upheaval (the opening to China, the breakup of the Soviet Union). As a member of the House Banking and Currency Committee, she fought for and won important protection for women and minorities in the financial markets; she chaired the 1976 Democratic convention. Through it all, she raised three children (Cokie Roberts, congressional correspondent for ABC News and NPR, is the youngest). The purple veil in the title refers to an incident early in her Washington life, when a change of clothes—from casual jacket and skirt to elegant black suit and hat with purple veil—gained her entrance to an important hearing. From that, she says, she learned to play the Washington game ``with confidence and authority and graciousness.'' Regrettably, we see far too much of the gracious lady who emphasizes how nice everyone in the Beltway is, and not enough of the authoritative one. Too discreet to gossip (and she must have been privy to plenty), she is also reticent about discussing people, events, and even her own accomplishments except on the most amiable terms. World leaders are ``dears'' and ``darlings''; a historic dinner with Chou En- lai yields only an anecdote about Peking duck. Clearly a charmer who probably can make the proverbial omelette without breaking eggs, Boggs has that other requisite of southern women, a spine of steel. Too bad the spine isn't more visible.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-15-193106-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1994

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.


Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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