A compelling look at an eventful life.

BANNED FROM CALIFORNIA

JIM FOSHEE: PERSECUTION, REDEMPTION, LIBERATION ... AND THE GAY CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

A biography of a little-known figure in the 20th-century gay rights movement.

In this debut biography, Steele tells the story of his late friendJim Foshee, a gay historian and activist. Foshee was born in 1939 and had a difficult childhood in which he was frequently at odds with his mother, father, and stepfathers and experienced abuse. He ran away from home repeatedly as an adolescent; the book’s title is a reference to when he escaped from Idaho to Los Angeles in 1954 and an LA sheriff later threatened to have him barred from the state. He was also remanded to the Idaho State Mental Hospital more than once—a place to which he felt more attached than his family home. In adulthood, he continued his peripatetic lifestyle, making a living through low-wage jobs and occasional sex work; finally, a minor theft landed him in Texas State prison for three years. Foshee eventually ended up in Colorado in 1969, where he fell in love and settled down with John Koop Bergmann, who worked for a laundry machine installation company. The two were fixtures in Denver’s gay community, and Foshee got jobs in print and radio journalism and discovered a passion for researching gay history. When Bergmann died of cancer in 1980, shortly after the two moved to California, Foshee was again on his own, and because their relationship had no recognized legal status at the time, he was relegated to the status of “friend” at his partner’s funeral. Foshee returned to Denver but soon began moving from place to place, mainly between California and Arizona. He continued his involvement in gay activism and historical research through his last decades before his death in 2006.

Foshee’s own words are the core of this book, with quotes from interviews making up much of the text. They’re linked by former journalist Steele’s own narration of the events of Foshee’s life, which adds a sense of structure and effectively places the events in historical and cultural context. However, Foshee proves to be a thoughtful observer of his own journey, giving the reader an intimate look at the choices he made and the paths he followed, and the reasons why he did so. Steele’s excellent organization of his biography adds further insight, bringing the midcentury life of an American gay man into vivid relief and painting a detailed picture of an era when homosexuality was illegal in many parts of the country. The book’s geography is also crucial: “I experienced the actual beginnings of the modern gay rights movement then and there in Los Angeles,” Foshee explains at one point, “so I knew firsthand that the gay movement didn’t begin two decades later at the Stonewall Inn.” Photos and documents from a number of sources, including gay-history archives that Foshee helped to build, add illuminating detail along the way. Overall, Steele does an excellent job of presenting the story of an activist and making it clear why his story matters.

A compelling look at an eventful life.

Pub Date: June 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73401-081-7

Page Count: 378

Publisher: Wentworth-Schwartz Publishing Company

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more