A damning portrait of a chaotic, inept administration that posed countless dangers to the nation and the world.

A SACRED OATH

MEMOIRS OF A SECRETARY OF DEFENSE DURING EXTRAORDINARY TIMES

Donald Trump’s secretary of defense dishes on his dimwitted boss and an army of enablers.

“Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?” As Esper, a West Point graduate and combat veteran, recounts at the opening of this overlong memoir, those were Trump’s words when protestors surrounded the White House in June 2020. It wouldn’t be the only absurd question from Trump, who also asked Esper why they couldn’t launch missiles into Mexico to destroy cartel drug labs. Much of Esper’s work as secretary of the Army and then secretary of defense, to judge by his account, was devoted to trying to explain to Trump and his cronies why they couldn’t do such things thanks to inconvenient obstacles such as the Constitution and international law. Indeed, Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff chair Mark Milley developed what they called the “Four Nos”: “no unnecessary wars; no strategic retreats; no politicization of the DoD; and no misuse of the military.” The White House seemed bent on breaking each of those rules, as when it demanded politicizing the military by means of a North Korea–worthy triumphant parade and misusing it with plans for martial law and seizing voting machines. Esper’s account could have used some trimming, but he’s rigorously methodical and a capable writer. His explanation of the Alexander Vindman scandal, when Trump pressured Esper to illegally expel a whistleblower from the ranks, is the most thorough in the literature (outside of Vindman’s own memoir). The author takes special pains to show how, over the course of Trump’s four years, competent civil and military servants were forced out and replaced by loyalists; in Trump’s desperate last year, it was nothing short of a purge. Esper ventures that Trump’s instincts were not always wrong, but, as he explains, “the ends he often sought rarely survived the ways and means he typically pursued to accomplish them.”

A damning portrait of a chaotic, inept administration that posed countless dangers to the nation and the world.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-314431-6

Page Count: 752

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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

NIGHT

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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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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