Readers willing to accept this book as more than hagiography will find a penetrating exploration of how the legislative...

THE LION OF THE SENATE

WHEN TED KENNEDY RALLIED THE DEMOCRATS IN A GOP CONGRESS

Through the story of Ted Kennedy (1932-2009), the authors deliver a primer on how the governmental sausage was made not so long ago.

When the Republicans took over Congress in the wake of the 1994 midterm elections, most savvy political observers assumed it meant the death knell of President Bill Clinton’s domestic agenda and possibly of his presidency. However, Kennedy was among the Democrats unwilling simply to roll over for Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America.” Instead, Kennedy used his grasp of the congressional process, his interpersonal relationships across the aisle, and his tenacity to fight to forestall, moderate, and ameliorate the Republican governing agenda, emerging in the process with a few of his own legislative goals intact. In this book, readers receive an inside glimpse at how politics happen, especially from the vantage point of the minority party. The narrative comes primarily from the perspective of Littlefield, Kennedy’s longtime aid and chief domestic policy adviser. His copious notes from his own involvement in these events drive the text, and he wrote the book until he fell seriously ill and Nexon, Kennedy’s senior health policy adviser, stepped in to complete the project. The authors provide a fine rendering that deserves a wide readership, but in this age of heightened partisanship and ideology, it likely won’t reach much beyond a Democratic audience, especially because the portrait they paint of Kennedy is so laudatory. This is an indictment of our age, not of this book, which admires its subject but also takes its topic, the political process, seriously. Littlefield and Nexon reveal a man unafraid of fights but also one willing and able to reach across the aisle to colleagues who often opposed him but nearly universally respected him.

Readers willing to accept this book as more than hagiography will find a penetrating exploration of how the legislative process works—or at least worked in the recent past.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-9615-4

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more