A capably written introduction to a political leader who, though no rock star, deserves to be better known.

A MAN OF IRON

THE TURBULENT LIFE AND IMPROBABLE PRESIDENCY OF GROVER CLEVELAND

Robust biography of an overlooked president.

There aren’t many good reasons that Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) is largely forgotten alongside such fellow presidents as Millard Fillmore and Franklin Pierce, yet there he is. Granted, writes former George W. Bush speechwriter Senik, he “didn’t look like a president. He looked like a foundry foreman.” Bulky, but with an oddly high-pitched and nasal voice, he had a quick temper accentuated by the habit of pounding his fist on a table to make an objection known. Cleveland certainly has demerits on his resume. For one, surrounded by Civil War generals who entered politics, he paid a Polish immigrant (who, happily, survived the war unscathed) to take his place, leading to the charge that he “was an unpatriotic elite who bought his way out of the war.” The elite part is wrong, Senik holds, for Cleveland was a working man who was more or less swept into politics without having much in the way of political ambition, and one who “was perpetually sensitive to the fact that his mandate was to rise above reflexive party loyalty.” As both governor of New York and president, he forged coalitions that frequently had more Republican than Democratic support, and many of his positions, especially on fiscal matters, were conservative. Yet, as Senik enumerates, he also established progressive policies, including requiring corporations to file quarterly financial reports and pressing for penal reforms to limit the use of force in prison, since “he suspected the authorities were exceeding the letter of the law.” He opposed the plot to overthrow the government of independent Hawaii, and he had a determinedly anti-imperialist bent. Freely exercising his veto power, his central conviction was that “government exists to protect the welfare of the people as a whole.” Practical rather than ideological, he got plenty done.

A capably written introduction to a political leader who, though no rock star, deserves to be better known.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982140-74-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

TANQUERAY

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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