A book of American history for all, but lawyers and journalists will especially appreciate it.

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THE TRIALS OF JOHN PETER ZENGER AND THE BIRTH OF AMERICA'S FREE PRESS

A Pulitzer Prize–winning historian looks back at the 1730s, when a single court case established the first step toward freedom of the press.

Kluger (The Bitter Waters of Medicine Creek: A Tragic Clash Between White and Native America, 2011, etc.) presents the story of John Peter Zenger (1697-1746). After apprenticing to William Bradford, the appointed royal printer, and serving as his journeyman, Zenger set up his own printing company. It was not as easy as it sounds, and he had considerable backing. This is also the story of the wealthy Lewis Morris. It was the legal engagement required to secure his inheritance that set him on his quest for lifelong learning and power. Eventually becoming one of the strongest politicians in the New York area, he was the senior member of the New Jersey Provincial Council. Kluger also tells the tale of the royally appointed governor serving New York and, after Morris’ successful petition, New Jersey. Historically, governors sent to the Colonies were strong on connections but short on capital. As such, there were many instances of self-serving governors, and Morris’ role in the recall of two of those illustrates how strong his powers were—that is, until William Cosby took over. He immediately took sides against Morris’ faction, siding with the trade barons against him. Here, Zenger met the needs of Morris and his brilliant cohorts. They hired Zenger to publish the New-York Weekly Journal to be an irritant to the governor. Wise to the draconian libel laws, they carefully avoided any illegal steps. Kluger takes some time to get to the meat of the story, but the attempts to indict Zenger and the eventual trial are enlightening and frightening—frightening to see how easily the press could be quashed and enlightening to see how that freedom was secured.

A book of American history for all, but lawyers and journalists will especially appreciate it.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-393-24546-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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

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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

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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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