A handy primer on a troublesome Trump in-law, even setting its gossipy parts aside.

KUSHNER, INC.

GREED. AMBITION. CORRUPTION. THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF JARED KUSHNER AND IVANKA TRUMP

A dishy, skeptical portrait of Jared Kushner, the naive, overleveraged, and conflict-mired developer’s son who has Donald Trump’s ear.

Intermittently, anyway. A running theme of investigative reporter Ward’s (The Liar's Ball: The Extraordinary Saga of How One Building Broke the World's Toughest Tycoons, 2014, etc.) book is that the husband of Trump’s daughter Ivanka is so clumsily meddling that the president keeps him at arm’s length. “Get rid of my kids, get them back to New York,” Trump reportedly said of “Javanka” six months into his administration, after their presence became like sticky tar in the West Wing. How did Kushner, with no political or foreign policy experience, become the White House’s point person on corporate innovation and peace in the Middle East? Thereon hangs a tail of greed, incompetence, desperation, and felonious behavior. Jared’s father, Charlie, was a mercurial New Jersey developer who wasn’t above tax fraud and blackmail to get ahead. (He was sentenced to two years in federal prison in 2005.) Jared was key to restoring the family’s good name, which entailed a role in the family real estate business, though he “was hardly ever in the office”; a job as publisher of the New York Observer, though journalism baffled him; and his marrying Ivanka, another scion of a developer with a dodgy history. When Jared doesn’t seem out of his depth, he seems corrupt; much of Ward’s story turns on his disreputable dealings with Saudi and Qatari leaders, perhaps pursued in hopes of covering the $1.2 billion mortgage on a Manhattan Kushner property. Many details here have been previously reported, and the author’s efforts to elevate the book above a clip job rest mainly on a raft of juicy quotes delivered by anonymous sources. (“Jared is as sinister as Donald Trump,” intones a “business associate.”) As a portrait of Jared’s character, the book’s fiendish aura is hard to trust, but given the factual record, it’s not out of bounds.

A handy primer on a troublesome Trump in-law, even setting its gossipy parts aside.

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-18594-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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