A nuanced portrait of a leader in a time of crisis who has definitely risen to the occasion.



The former press secretary to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy lays out the stakes of the current war.

“Perhaps he had not always been a perfect leader,” writes Mendel. “There had been difficulty in mustering the necessary support around his initiatives, managing his staff, and navigating the shoals of partisan politics. But in the chaos of war he knew exactly what to do. He became our national protector.” Indeed, Zelenskyy came into his own as a wartime leader of unflinching courage and a deeply wrought conviction that Ukraine is a bulwark of Western democracy and a nation that belongs in the 21st century. By contrast, Mendel writes in a closely observed portrait, “there is only one way to describe Putin: ‘old age.’ No matter how much I looked at him and his delegation, no matter how much I listened, everything about them conveyed old age: old ideology, old principles, old behavior, old thoughts.” Readers will find a generally admiring but not entirely uncritical depiction of Zelenskyy as well. He is a masterful negotiator who understands that peace is preferable to war, for “only with peace can he focus on rebuilding his nation.” That rebuilding involves guiding Ukraine to forward-looking economic, social, and cultural standards and shaking off the power of oligarchs, but it also acknowledges that Ukraine is a multicultural society that includes ethnic Russians—who, in the course of the current war, have discovered that their language is now associated with “inhumanity and cruel aggression,” so much so that they’re switching to speaking Ukrainian as an expression of solidarity. Readers will also find a cleareyed look at both the reasons for Russia’s intransigence and the countervailing force of Ukrainian resistance in a war that “has burned away all that was artificial and superficial in our lives.”

A nuanced portrait of a leader in a time of crisis who has definitely risen to the occasion.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66801-271-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: One Signal/Atria

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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


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


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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