An exuberant celebration of an astounding couple.

THIS AMERICA OF OURS

BERNARD AND AVIS DEVOTO AND THE FORGOTTEN FIGHT TO SAVE THE WILD

A stirring story of a husband and wife and their passionate devotion to the land—and great food.

Journalist Schweber makes his book debut with a vigorous dual biography of Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, historian, and crusading conservationist Bernard DeVoto (1897-1955) and his wife, Avis (1904-1989), who was closely involved with his work and, after his death, devoted herself to the rising career of her friend Julia Child. Drawing on abundant archival sources, Schweber argues persuasively that because of the DeVotos’ efforts, millions of acres of public lands were saved from destruction and preserved as national treasures. Bernard started his career teaching English at Northwestern, where, in 1922, he met a captivating student: Helen Avis MacVicar. They married in 1923, after her first year. Soon disillusioned with academia, Bernard quit to become a writer. “To express himself and rise in stature, Bernard DeVoto wrote novels, essays, and criticism,” writes the author. “To make good money, John August wrote ‘tripe’ stories for the big slicks.” Although his novels were mediocre at best, his nonfiction—focused on the West—earned critical acclaim. Offered a monthly column in Harper’s, he turned his attention to the vulnerability of Western land. Growing up in Utah, Bernard saw land “late in the stages of having its vegetative skin grafted off. To boost lumber, beef, and wool production in World War I, logging and grazing regulations were lifted in national forests but then never reinstated in peacetime.” Bernard’s hard-hitting essays against the land grab by greedy ranchers and politicians ignited sparks. Schweber recounts the virulent political climate created by Nevada Sen. Pat McCarran, a strident anti-conservationist, abetted by Joseph McCarthy. Bernard was one of many caught in their crosshairs, and he was blacklisted by two magazines, investigated by the FBI, and feared imprisonment—yet never stopped lecturing and writing about conservation. After Bernard died, Avis worked as a scout for Knopf, to whom she brought Child’s cookbook, a high point in their long, close friendship.

An exuberant celebration of an astounding couple.

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-43881-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Mariner Books

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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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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