An insightful and squirm-inducing account of how the good guys won and then lost.

A focused study of 1960s and ’70s American politics and the effects of the public interest liberalism that emerged.

Most histories of this period explain that the liberal heirs of the New Deal overwhelmingly supported government programs. This may be the popular view of events, but history professor Sabin, who directs the Yale Environmental Humanities Program, tells a different and disturbing story. Many readers only recall the vivid civil rights and anti-war campaigns of the era, but the author emphasizes equally influential—and liberal—movements that attacked government itself. He reminds us that Rachel Carson’s bombshell, Silent Spring (1962), blamed the massive damage caused by insecticides on dimwitted bureaucrats who were supposed to be “looking after things.” In the same vein, Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) attacked government planners who bulldozed vibrant neighborhoods in favor of immense, sterile landscapes. Sabin directs much of his attention to Ralph Nader, whose 1965 book, Unsafe at Any Speed, criticized government traffic safety agencies, entirely subservient to an auto industry that denied responsibility for injuries and deaths from accidents and proclaimed that driver education was the key to saving lives. Nader devoted the rest of his life to denouncing the government, becoming a major figure in the rise of public interest law. The Clean Air Act (1970) and Clean Water Act (1972) would have been weaker if Nader’s activists had not passed over Republicans and polluters and attacked liberal Democrats for their modest commitment. Stung, they denounced Nader but passed laws with more teeth. Despite approving these liberal movements, Sabin comes to the grim conclusion that “Nader and his fellow activists helped destroy a political economic system that served the working class” and “helped fuel a corrosive antigovernment legacy.” That may be a tough pill to swallow for progressive activists today, but the author’s cogent history is timely and likely to be enduring.

An insightful and squirm-inducing account of how the good guys won and then lost.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-393-63404-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021


A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.

An insider’s account of the rampant misconduct within the Trump administration, including the tumult surrounding the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.

Hutchinson, who served as an assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, gained national prominence when she testified to the House Select Committee, providing possibly the most damaging portrait of Trump’s erratic behavior to date. In her hotly anticipated memoir, the author traces the challenges and triumphs of her upbringing in New Jersey and the work (including a stint as an intern with Sen. Ted Cruz) that led her to coveted White House internships and eventual positions in the Office of Legislative Affairs and with Meadows. While the book offers few big reveals beyond her testimony (many details leaked before publication), her behind-the-scenes account of the chaotic Trump administration is intermittently insightful. Her initial portrait of Trump is less critical than those written by other former staffers, as the author gauges how his actions were seemingly stirred more by vanity and fear of appearing weak, rather than pure malevolency. For example, she recalls how he attended an event without a mask because he didn’t want to smear his face bronzer. Hutchinson also provides fairly nuanced portraits of Meadows and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who, along with Trump, eventually turned against her. She shares far more negative assessments about others in Trump’s orbit, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and adviser Rudy Giuliani, recounting how Giuliani groped her backstage during Trump’s Jan. 6 speech. The narrative lags after the author leaves the White House, but the story intensifies as she’s faced with subpoenas to testify and is forced to undergo deep soul-searching before choosing to sever ties with Trump and provide the incriminating information that could help take him down.

A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781668028285

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023


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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