A significant, deeply reported portrait of the madness that continues to grip the White House.

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A VERY STABLE GENIUS

DONALD J. TRUMP'S TESTING OF AMERICA

Two Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post journalists deliver an almost day-to-day chronicle of the first three years of the Donald Trump presidency, and it’s a wild ride.

Disparaging accounts of presidents remain a publishing staple, and many close to Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama were happy to reveal unflattering details. However, “unflattering” does not describe this portrait of Trump; “horrific” would be a better fit. Sadly, it’s entirely familiar. Marching through these pages is the same loose cannon who delighted audiences on The Apprentice. Trump made the rules, and those who didn’t measure up were berated, humiliated, and dismissed; no one questioned his authority. As president, the authors amply demonstrate, he still feels his word is law. When officials explain that an order—e.g., to “shut down” the border to keep out immigrants —would force them to break the law, his response was that he would pardon them. He admires dictators such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un and expresses contempt for democratically elected European leaders. Trump knows little history or geography and has no interest in learning. Aides quickly recognized that listening to others at conferences bored him, and he refused to read briefing materials. Flash cards got his attention. He hated to be contradicted and publicly reviled those who irritated him, from personal assistants to elderly statesmen and generals, and he fired advisers with abandon. Eventually, they adapted. “Trump began the year 2019 as a president unchained,” write the authors in a highly depressing, meticulously documented chronicle. “He had replaced a raft of seasoned advisors with a cast of enablers who…saw their mission as telling the president yes.” Readers as dismayed as the authors should read one or two anti-Trump diatribes—as one of the best, this one will do nicely—and then swear off the genre and get to work.

A significant, deeply reported portrait of the madness that continues to grip the White House.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984877-49-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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