An important addition to the ever expanding library of Trumpian crimes.

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COMPROMISED

COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AND THE THREAT OF DONALD J. TRUMP

“If the American people had known what we did at the time of the election, they would have been appalled.” Former FBI official Strzok recounts the events of 2016.

One of many FBI executives fired for bringing his inquiries too close to the Oval Office, Strzok delivers the news that Trump was indeed under investigation even as a candidate—and then as president. The reasons are almost self-evident to anyone who remembers that he publicly asked for Russian help in winning his post, following it up almost immediately after being impeached with requests for help to another foreign power for the current electoral cycle. Strzok was in charge of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s infamous emails. “The fact is that if Clinton’s email had been housed on a State Department system,” writes the author, “it would have been less secure and probably much more vulnerable to hacking.” All the same, they released a finding calling it “extremely careless,” which certainly cost Clinton votes. The attention devoted to scrutinizing Clinton’s email, Strzok suggests, may well have kept the agency from spotting signs of Russian interference until it was too late. The author takes pains to clarify that the Mueller Report by no means exonerates Trump, though Trump’s attorney general interpreted it that way; he adds that the FBI could certainly have dealt damage to Trump’s campaign, as it did Clinton’s, simply by hinting at what it knew about his ties to Russia. Among Trump’s failings, however, has been his habit of underestimating the abilities and powers of the intelligence community as well as his penchant to ignore good advice—e.g., when his aides urged him not to congratulate Putin on winning his own rigged election, Trump did so anyway. Strzok corroborates numerous other accounts of Trump’s malfeasance, and he worries that Russian interference will be even more pronounced in the 2020 race given “Donald Trump’s willingness to further the malign interests of one of our most formidable adversaries, apparently for his own personal gain.”

An important addition to the ever expanding library of Trumpian crimes.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-23706-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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

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