A cleareyed argument that “strategy and governing [have] been replaced by instincts and partisan id.”

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THE IMPOSTORS

HOW REPUBLICANS QUIT GOVERNING AND SEIZED AMERICAN POLITICS

A political writer argues that “the modern Republican Party has become a post-policy party.”

In this thoroughly researched book, Benen, blogger and award-winning producer of the Rachel Maddow Show, makes a solid case that in recent years, Republicans have repeatedly upended their once-cherished beliefs in order to focus on more power-oriented political and ideological goals. The author clearly demonstrates how Republicans have consistently reversed positions in order to score points against the Democrats, whether on trade, taxes, guns, immigration, or deficits. Regarding deficits, “since Watergate, every Democratic president has left office with a deficit smaller than when he started, and every Republican president has left office with a deficit larger than when he arrived.” Furthermore, even when Republicans agreed with Democrats, at least in principle, as in the case of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, their votes often failed to reflect bipartisanship. Despite 130 congressional hearings over multiple committees, Republicans—who had once supported many of the Affordable Care Act’s tenets—claimed Obama had “rammed through” the ACA. A particularly ironic example of willful contrariness was the Ebola crisis of 2014, during which Republicans either accused Obama of being “too hands off” or of being alarmist. Donald Trump, who had yet to declare his candidacy, even called for his resignation. The author ably lays out the many disturbing trends in the Republican political arena, making a convincing case for his argument that the GOP has “quit governing” and now merely focuses on attaining and wielding power or simply negating any progress made by Democrats. Unfortunately, given the pace at which events unfold in today’s political landscape, much of the narrative may feel like old news not long after publication.

A cleareyed argument that “strategy and governing [have] been replaced by instincts and partisan id.”

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-302648-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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