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 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019


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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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