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WHY WE DID IT

A TRAVELOGUE FROM THE REPUBLICAN ROAD TO HELL

At once sobering and entertaining, a eulogy for a GOP run amok.

A former GOP operative explores possible reasons why so many of his peers fell for Trumpism.

“Why in the fuck did the vast, vast, vast majority of seemingly normal, decent people whom I worked with go along with the most abnormal, indecent of men? And why hadn’t I seen it coming?” So wonders Miller, a communications whiz who locates the demise of the reasonable Republican Party of old in several key events of the last two decades. One was John McCain’s acceding to cynicism in adding Sarah Palin to the ticket—but more, when he pandered to the tea party mob with demands to end immigration from Mexico with his “complete the danged fence” rhetoric, “a nakedly halfhearted version of the Build. The. Wall. chant that was to come.” Numerous other stomach-churning turning points figure in the triumph of Trumpism, aided and abetted by an array of actors: the “LOL Nothing Matters Republicans” who “had decided that if someone like Trump could win, then everything that everyone does in politics is meaningless”; the “Tribalist Trolls” who demanded that nationalist ideas take center stage; and the “Inert Team Players” who couldn’t imagine doing anything apart from being loyal Republicans, so much so that “the idea of being anything besides that is inconceivable.” There were also countless self-serving, self-dealing players who attached themselves to Trump in the hope of taking a share of the big grift. While delivering a carefully argued account of how things went awry, Miller is unsparing in his descriptions of latter-day GOP figures such as Elise Stefanik, who “made a conscious choice to go all-in with her own personal Voldemort because she came to recognize that her popularity, fundraising, and ability to rise within the party would benefit”; and Corey Lewandowski, “a shriveled skin-flute-looking man with no appreciable skills outside of recognizing the popularity of unrestrained Trumpism.”

At once sobering and entertaining, a eulogy for a GOP run amok.

Pub Date: June 28, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316147-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2022

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

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Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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THE AGE OF GRIEVANCE

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

The New York Times columnist serves up a cogent argument for shelving the grudge and sucking it up.

In 1976, Tom Wolfe described the “me decade” as a pit of mindless narcissism. A half century later, Bruni, author of Born Round and other bestselling books, calls for a renaming: “‘Me Turning Point’ would have been more accurate, because the period of time since has been a nonstop me jamboree.” Our present cultural situation, he notes, is marked by constant grievance and endless grasping. The ensuing blame game has its pros. Donald Trump, he notes, “became a victor by playing the victim, and his most impassioned oratory, such as it was, focused not on the good that he could do for others but on the bad supposedly done to him.” Bruni is an unabashed liberal, and while he places most of the worst behavior on the right—he opens with Sean Hannity’s bleating lie that the Biden administration was diverting scarce baby formula from needy Americans to illegal immigrants—he also allows that the left side of the aisle has committed its share of whining. A case in point: the silencing of a professor for showing an image of Mohammed to art students, neither religiously proscribed nor done without ample warning, but complained about by self-appointed student censors. Still, “not all grievances are created equal,” he writes. “There is January 6, 2021, and there is everything else. Attempts by leaders on the right to minimize what happened that day and lump it together with protests on the left are as ludicrous as they are dangerous.” Whether from left or right, Bruni calls for a dose of humility on the part of all: “an amalgam of kindness, openness, and silliness might be an effective solvent for grievance.”

A welcome call to grow up and cut out the whining.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668016435

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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