A heartfelt and fiery political memoir and immigrant story.

HEART OF FIRE

AN IMMIGRANT DAUGHTER'S STORY

The life story of the first Asian American woman and only immigrant in the Senate.

Hirono was born in 1947 in a rural town in Japan. Following years of abuse, her mother escaped back to her native Hawaii with the author and her older brother in hopes of a better life. Being a single parent, she had to work multiple jobs to support the family. “She had a heart of fire and would always pick herself up and try something else, seek another way forward,” writes Hirono. “Mom didn’t believe in feeling sorry for herself or in bemoaning her circumstances. She intended to take care of us, and in that purpose she never wavered. Always looking out for the next opportunity.” They initially lived in a “small, windowless room” in a boardinghouse and had no access to health care. These early experiences became pivotal in her decision to pursue public service in order “to help the most defenseless among us.” Given her cultural roots in Japan and Hawaii, as well as the often unfair expectations placed on women in politics, Hirono often exercised restraint in showing her emotions in order to get measures passed during much of her early political career. However, her demeanor changed markedly following the 2016 presidential election. No longer could she stay silent in the face of grave injustices. “My expectations of the most xenophobic, misogynistic, corrupt, and self-dealing president in history could not have been lower, yet he would sink beneath even that, plunging the nation into one crisis after another,” she writes. “There was no end to the cruelty, compulsive lies, and outright fraud perpetrated by Trump and his enablers.” With both ferocity and compassion, Hirono chronicles her experiences in Congress, exposing the rampant hypocrisy and illogical behavior she has witnessed. At the same time, warmth and love shine through, as she attributes her success and determination to the example set by her mother.

A heartfelt and fiery political memoir and immigrant story.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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