Sometimes overly gushing and perhaps premature but bolstered with enough evidence.

A CONSEQUENTIAL PRESIDENT

THE LEGACY OF BARACK OBAMA

An overview of President Barack Obama’s two-term presidency: his successes, failures, and incompletions.

Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist D’Antonio (Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success, 2015 etc.) takes a broad, generous look at the entire Obama administration and finds many solid arguments that he indeed delivered the “change” that he promised in 2008. Amazingly, Obama did not allow the GOP obstructionism to wreck his presidency, as planned by Mitch McConnell, who vowed that Obama’s presidency would be “divisive and controversial.” For example, the new president was able to pass the much-needed economic Recovery Act as one of his first acts, thanks to the still-Democratic majority in Congress. His bailout of the auto industry was much criticized at the time, and its startling success prompted the Economist, which argued that “GM deserved extinction,” to apologize in its pages one year later. While many had voted Obama in to wage a “revolution” and then were disappointed at the slow pace, D’Antonio shows how, over the course of the eight years of Obama’s presidency, the accumulation of accomplishments proved to be revolutionary—e.g., his ability to pass health care reform when previous leaders could not manage it, galvanize the alternative-energy fields of wind and solar power “after decades of promise” by previous presidents to wean the country off oil, and draw back the troops in the Middle East. The recognition of the causes of global warming and the science behind it proved liberating for the environmental movement (e.g., at the climate conference in Paris in 2015), while the execution of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden galled the Republicans to no end. The author also looks at Obama’s mixed results in education and financial reform, gun control, and the long-promised closure of Guantánamo Bay prison. On the other hand, the president evolved courageously in human rights such as LGBT equality and equal pay for women.

Sometimes overly gushing and perhaps premature but bolstered with enough evidence.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-08139-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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