Just the thing for Biden haters and insurrectionists.



A preening, defiant memoir by a Trump stalwart.

While the flood of their memoirs shows no sign of letting up, even the most full-throated of Trump’s supporters allow that storming the Capitol was maybe not such a good idea. Not Pompeo, who mentions it only once, as “that January 6, the one the Left wants to exploit for political advantage.” The author doesn’t discuss the coup attempt or other inconvenient truths of Trump’s last days, but there’s plenty about Pompeo being exactly the right man for the right job—jobs, rather—that Trump offered him. Pompeo, top of his West Point class and fearless Kansas congressman, knew that his duty was to save the CIA, which “desperately needed good leadership” after John Brennan, “a total disaster.” By Pompeo’s account, it was he, as secretary of state, who made Iran blink, North Korea flinch, and Putin behave. (That Russia/Trump business? A hoax. The Hunter Biden laptop thing, however, is very real and very important.) According to the author’s account, he did all of this almost single-handedly, since supposed fellow traveler John Bolton, among others, “cared far more about taking credit and nurturing his ego than he did for executing the president’s directives….If everyone had behaved as selfishly as Bolton had, very little would ever have gotten accomplished.” Pompeo proves that one can be a dedicated Trumper and also endlessly self-serving. Granted, he does give a shoutout or two to others in the administration, mostly nameless, as when he writes, “In the end, our team left America more secure and more respected—even if not always more loved—in the world,” not like the present administration, which is to blame for all that’s wrong today—except maybe Covid-19, which came out of a Chinese lab. Pompeo also makes room to advocate for waterboarding.

Just the thing for Biden haters and insurrectionists.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9780063247444

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.


The former vice president reflects warmly on the president whose followers were encouraged to hang him.

Pence’s calm during the Trump years has been a source of bemusement, especially during the administration’s calamitous demise. In this bulky, oddly uncurious political memoir, Pence suggests the source of his composure is simple: frequent prayer and bottomless patience for politicking. After a relatively speedy recap of his personal and political history in Indiana—born-again Christian, conservative radio host, congressman, governor—he remembers greeting the prospect of serving under Trump with enthusiasm. He “was giving voice to the desperation and frustration caused by decades of government mismanagement,” he writes. Recounting how the Trump-Pence ticket won the White House in 2016, he recalls Trump as a fundamentally hardworking president, albeit one who often shot from the hip. Yet Pence finds Trump’s impulsivity an asset, setting contentious foreign leaders and Democrats off-balance. Soon they settled into good cop–bad cop roles; he was “the gentler voice,” while “it was Trump’s job to bring the thunder.” Throughout, Pence rationalizes and forgives all sorts of thundering. Sniping at John McCain? McCain never really took the time to understand him! Revolving-door staffers? He’s running government like a business! That phone call with Ukraine’s president? Overblown! Downplaying the threat Covid-19 presented in early 2020? Evidence, somehow, of “the leadership that President Trump showed in the early, harrowing days of the pandemic.” But for a second-in-command to such a disruptive figure, Pence dwells little on Trump’s motivations, which makes the story’s climax—Trump’s 2020 election denials and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—impossible for him to reconcile. How could such a selfless patriot fall under the sway of bad lawyers and conspiracy theorists? God only knows. Chalk it up to Pence's forgiving nature. In the lengthy acknowledgments he thanks seemingly everybody he’s known personally or politically; but one name’s missing.

Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 9781982190330

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.


From the Pocket Change Collective series

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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