Less a sequel than an addendum, the book offers a close-up view of the Oval Office in its darkest hour.

THE LAST OF THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Four decades after Watergate shook America, journalist Woodward (The Price of Politics, 2012, etc.) returns to the scandal to profile Alexander Butterfield, the Richard Nixon aide who revealed the existence of the Oval Office tapes and effectively toppled the presidency.

Of all the candidates to work in the White House, Butterfield was a bizarre choice. He was an Air Force colonel and wanted to serve in Vietnam. By happenstance, his colleague H.R. Haldeman helped Butterfield land a job in the Nixon administration. For three years, Butterfield worked closely with the president, taking on high-level tasks and even supervising the installation of Nixon’s infamous recording system. The writing here is pure Woodward: a visual, dialogue-heavy, blow-by-blow account of Butterfield’s tenure. The author uses his long interviews with Butterfield to re-create detailed scenes, which reveal the petty power plays of America’s most powerful men. Yet the book is a surprisingly funny read. Butterfield is passive, sensitive, and dutiful, the very opposite of Nixon, who lets loose a constant stream of curses, insults, and nonsensical bluster. Years later, Butterfield seems conflicted about his role in such an eccentric presidency. “I’m not trying to be a Boy Scout and tell you I did it because it was the right thing to do,” Butterfield concedes. It is curious to see Woodward revisit an affair that now feels distantly historical, but the author does his best to make the story feel urgent and suspenseful. When Butterfield admitted to the Senate Select Committee that he knew about the listening devices, he felt its significance. “It seemed to Butterfield there was absolute silence and no one moved,” writes Woodward. “They were still and quiet as if they were witnessing a hinge of history slowly swinging open….It was as if a bare 10,000 volt cable was running through the room, and suddenly everyone touched it at once.”

Less a sequel than an addendum, the book offers a close-up view of the Oval Office in its darkest hour.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1644-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2015

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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 Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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