A useful portrait of an enigmatic politician.




A biography of the vice president, who has consistently demonstrated his “chameleon properties.”

In his work for the Associated Press, CNN, and the Indianapolis Star, journalist LoBianco has observed Mike Pence’s political career both as governor of Indiana and vice president. In his evenhanded debut book, the author sometimes offers his own commentary but mostly allows the facts to speak for themselves. (Pence declined to be interviewed for the book.) In The Shadow President (2018), Michael D’Antonio and Peter Eisner created a picture of Pence as an ineffective lawyer and governor and hypocritical vice president whose brand of Christian faith has led him to consistently condemn homosexuality and abortion. The co-authors argued that Pence could be considered an insignificant public figure with one exception: creating a persona as a radio talk show host in Indiana after losing two attempts to get elected to the House of Representatives; the show provided Pence a base that helped him gain entry to the House on his third attempt. LoBianco makes a similar argument, noting Pence’s “self-affixed Christian-first label” and his long-held, unswerving belief that the God of an inerrant Bible has preordained his path to the presidency. LoBianco is especially effective in explaining how his rigid beliefs receive daily affirmation from Pence’s wife, Karen. In convincing detail, the author shows how Karen made more final decisions about policy during Pence’s governorship than Pence did. As the author writes, his subjugation to Karen’s directions have likely carried over to his role as Donald Trump’s vice president. Despite offering copious evidence and periodic interpretations, LoBianco reiterates throughout the narrative that Pence is the “ultimate political shapeshifter,” especially compared to other elected politicians. The author presents the possibility that Pence could serve a second term if Trump wins in 2020 and then seek the presidency in 2024.

A useful portrait of an enigmatic politician.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-286878-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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