Timely and engaging; a heroic environmental story well told.

FIGHTING POLLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE

A former Environmental Protection Agency attorney delivers an impassioned plea to fight pollution and climate change.

Both a memoir and an informed commentary, this debut book addresses pollution and climate change from an insider’s perspective. Emory, who spent much of his legal career working for the EPA, weaves together his personal story with observations that demonstrate why, when compared with Europe, the United States is largely lacking in its use of renewable energy and its response to climate change. The volume begins with something of a historical overview of environmental abuses and regulations. It also provides a laudatory look at the influential Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring (1962), a book that “helped to move” the U.S. government from environmental “promoter to regulator” with the creation of the EPA in 1970. Emory’s real awakening to pollution came as a Maryland legislator when he “encountered frightful cases of toxic-waste dumping.” His battle against pollution in his state led to the author’s being hired by the EPA in 1980. Unfortunately, Emory was witness to political power plays inside and outside the agency; in 1993, he bravely filed a whistleblower suit against the EPA and was consequently demoted. The author relates this narrative with candor and selflessness, offering a behind-the-scenes peek at the ugly inner workings of the federal government. Still, he managed to redirect his career to work internationally on environmental issues. He and his wife flourished in France and Germany; living in Europe afforded Emory the opportunity to witness that continent’s advanced view of environmental regulation. The author writes eloquently and passionately about pollution and climate change throughout the book, showing how they converge. In the closing chapter, he provides an authoritative discussion of two powerful environmental tools: “adaptation” and “mitigation.” While lamenting the fact that the EPA was “deconstructed” in 2017, Emory optimistically sees hope for combating climate change in the future: “While my generation still does too little, younger generations, who are more thoughtful and alert now see this danger and are marching in demonstrations for immediate action.”

Timely and engaging; a heroic environmental story well told. (bibliography)

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64438-069-7

Page Count: 302

Publisher: Booklocker.com

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2020

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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

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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