NIXON IN WINTER

HIS OFF-THE-RECORD CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE END OF THE COLD WAR, THE SCANDALS OF WASHINGTON, AND LIFE IN AND OUT OF THE ARENA

A hagiographic account of the last years of Richard M. Nixon. As a college student, Crowley wrote Nixon a letter. Invited to meet with him, she ended up his assistant, friend, and biographer. She seems to have been as close to Nixon as anyone ever was outside his family. Here and in an earlier volume drawing on her time with him (Nixon off the Record, 1996), she allows Nixon to speak for himself through the copious and detailed notes she kept of their interactions. Nixon in the late 1980s and 1990s was frail and aged, but still very much a player in the game of foreign policy. Here we see him traveling to Russia as that nation fumbles toward democracy, to China as it tries to understand the market forces it has unleashed. He meets with world leaders, attempts to influence the leaders of the US, tries to—as Crowley puts it—“complete the comeback.” Crowley is there, sitting in his study, as he thinks aloud, reminisces, philosophizes about life and death. These private moments reveal much about a man who remains an enigmatic figure. One touching scene has a lonely, widowed Nixon awkwardly heating up canned chili for the two of them. Unfortunately, Crowley may be too close to her subject. She has no criticism of him, exercises no independent judgment. Nixon still speaks of “enemies” out to get him. On Vietnam he admits no wrong. On Watergate he admits it was his fault, but only in the sense that he, being Nixon, was hated by the press and so was held to a higher standard than presidents before or after him. But when Crowley speaks, it is merely to repeat and support Nixon’s views. How one receives this book will depend on how one perceives Nixon. Crowley might have helped us navigate our prejudices but, alas, is more apologist than guide. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-679-45695-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

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.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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