An engaging insider’s account of the down-and-dirty machinations that go into high-stakes real estate development.



Two powerful personalities clash in this firsthand account of Steve Wynn’s bid to open a new casino on Donald Trump’s turf.

In the mid- to late-1990s, Atlantic City, N.J., was Donald Trump’s town; as the man behind the Trump Plaza, the Trump Castle and the Trump Taj Mahal, the Donald held a huge stake in the city—one that he wasn’t open to sharing with others. So when world-famous gaming magnate Steve Wynn, whose Mirage Resorts had at one time owned and operated the Golden Nugget Atlantic City, sent right-hand man, and our narrator, “Skip” Bronson to town to begin the process of turning an undeveloped former landfill into a glittering world-class casino and resort, Trump moved into overdrive to stop them. Still smarting from a recent failed attempt to set up shop in Connecticut, Bronson and his team quickly decided that transportation would be key to the casino’s success, so they came up with the idea of the Brigantine Connector—a tunnel that would funnel gamers from the interstate under some of the seedier sections of town and directly to the front door of Wynn’s proposed casino. Trump realized that without the tunnel, Wynn’s project probably wouldn’t take off, so through a mix of lawsuits, outrageous public statements and bombs lobbed via the local press, Trump and his allies tried their best to stop construction. As a firsthand participant in the struggle between these two powerful men, the author presents a full account of the conflict and a detailed behind-the-scenes view of the incredible amount of bureaucratic squabbling, glad-handing and negotiation that goes on before a development of this scale can take place, not to mention the many places such a project can suddenly go flying off the tracks. Bronson, whose writing is clear and warm, packs the story with many anecdotes from his long career as a developer. While the digressions are usually funny, they can occasionally detract from the main narrative, but overall they add to the book’s welcoming, conversational tone.

An engaging insider’s account of the down-and-dirty machinations that go into high-stakes real estate development.

Pub Date: May 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-1468300468

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Richard D. Bronson

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics,...


A provocative analysis of the parallels between Donald Trump’s ascent and the fall of other democracies.

Following the last presidential election, Levitsky (Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America, 2003, etc.) and Ziblatt (Conservative Parties and the Birth of Democracy, 2017, etc.), both professors of government at Harvard, wrote an op-ed column titled, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” The answer here is a resounding yes, though, as in that column, the authors underscore their belief that the crisis extends well beyond the power won by an outsider whom they consider a demagogue and a liar. “Donald Trump may have accelerated the process, but he didn’t cause it,” they write of the politics-as-warfare mentality. “The weakening of our democratic norms is rooted in extreme partisan polarization—one that extends beyond policy differences into an existential conflict over race and culture.” The authors fault the Republican establishment for failing to stand up to Trump, even if that meant electing his opponent, and they seem almost wistfully nostalgic for the days when power brokers in smoke-filled rooms kept candidacies restricted to a club whose members knew how to play by the rules. Those supporting the candidacy of Bernie Sanders might take as much issue with their prescriptions as Trump followers will. However, the comparisons they draw to how democratic populism paved the way toward tyranny in Peru, Venezuela, Chile, and elsewhere are chilling. Among the warning signs they highlight are the Republican Senate’s refusal to consider Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee as well as Trump’s demonization of political opponents, minorities, and the media. As disturbing as they find the dismantling of Democratic safeguards, Levitsky and Ziblatt suggest that “a broad opposition coalition would have important benefits,” though such a coalition would strike some as a move to the center, a return to politics as usual, and even a pragmatic betrayal of principles.

The value of this book is the context it provides, in a style aimed at a concerned citizenry rather than fellow academics, rather than in the consensus it is not likely to build.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6293-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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

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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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