An entertainment, though not much more to ordinary readers. Aspiring politicos and their staffers, though, will want this...

PANIC 2012

THE SUBLIME AND TERRIFYING INSIDE STORY OF OBAMA'S FINAL CAMPAIGN

A semigonzo, often funny, occasionally revealing look at the daily business of conducting a presidential campaign.

It’s not quite Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 or The Boys on the Bus, but Rolling Stone contributing editor Hastings owes something more than just inspiration to Hunter Thompson and Timothy Crouse. Or perhaps it’s in the nature of the beast: Every campaign needs a boozing, ill-kempt, confrontational goat, and Hastings is just right for the part. On one instance where candidate Barack Obama is about to wade into a crowd of reporters for a friendly off-the-record beer, for instance, Hastings recalls a Washington Post writer sidling up to him, eyeballing his shorts and T-shirt and saying, “You might want to, you know, put on something nicer.” Well-dressed or not, Hastings knows how to ask hard questions, for which reason he was often shunted from top-tier accommodations to barely on the bus, much less the campaign plane—not at the president’s behest, mind you, but at the hands of ticked-off staffers, from the high-ranking (David Plouffe et al.) to the barely out of high school. Hastings dishes dirt, little of it deeply scandalous; his title, it seems, comes from the fact that every perceived swing in mood, every gaffe, every poor moment at the microphone set those staffers on edge. And not just the Dems: Hastings matches the endless moments of terror with moments of elation when Mitt Romney stuck silver foot in mouth. One payoff: Though Hastings did in fact agree to go off the record at points, that doesn’t keep him from reporting on his fellow reporters.

An entertainment, though not much more to ordinary readers. Aspiring politicos and their staffers, though, will want this for its astute look at the tricks of the trade.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 9781101600894

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 14, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2013

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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