A whirlwind of a book, full of Trumpian sound and fury—and plenty of news.

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A hard-hitting exposé of the last year of the Trump regime packed with appalling revelations.

This book, write Washington Post reporters Leonnig and Rucker in their sequel to A Very Stable Genius (2020), recounts “how Trump stress-tested the republic, twisting the country’s institutions for personal gain and then pushing his followers too far.” Maundering, bloviating, and always enraged, Trump stalked the halls of the White House, bewildered to find that he could not explain away the pandemic with his spewing flood of misinformation. He was further enraged to find that the voters were not willing to overlook the “abject failure” that he personifies. In perhaps the most newsworthy moments of this newsworthy book, Trump plots to engineer a de facto coup d'état that will keep him in power. His one firm check is the book’s hero, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told his lieutenants at the Pentagon, “They may try, but they’re not going to fucking succeed….You can’t do this without the military….We’re the guys with the guns.” Perhaps surprisingly, Melania and Ivanka Trump emerge as adults in the room, as well, even if a former Trump adviser characterizes the latter as a “stable pony”: “When a racehorse gets too agitated, you bring the stable pony in to calm him down.” In a carefully structured narrative that goes from bad to worse, the authors portray Trump as fully self-satisfied as the Jan. 6 insurrection was taking place, enacted by people whom Milley describes as “the same people we fought in World War II.” To trust this account, Milley almost singlehandedly averted the unprecedented assault on democracy. In a plaintive yet characteristically blustering interview with the authors after Joe Biden’s inauguration, Trump continued to insist that he won the election even while moaning that were it not for the pandemic, he could have beaten a ticket made up of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

A whirlwind of a book, full of Trumpian sound and fury—and plenty of news.

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-29894-7

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: July 25, 2021

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A cogent overview of the court’s crucial role, the application of which is sure to be discussed among scholars.


Why the Supreme Court deserves the public’s trust.

Based on his 2021 lecture at Harvard Law School, Supreme Court Justice Breyer offers a selected history of court cases, a defense of judicial impartiality, and recommendations for promoting the public’s respect for and acceptance of the role of the judiciary in the future. The author regrets that many Americans see the justices as “unelected political officials or ‘junior varsity’ politicians themselves, rather than jurists,” asserting that “nearly all” justices apply “the basic same interpretive tools” to decide a case: “They will consider the statute’s text, its history, relevant legal tradition, precedents, the statute’s purposes (or the values that underlie it), and the relevant consequences.” Although Breyer maintains that all try to avoid the influence of ideology or political philosophy, he acknowledges that suggesting “a total and clean divorce between the Court and politics is not quite right either,” since a justice’s background, education, and experiences surely affect their views, especially when considering the consequences of a decision. The judicial process, Breyer explains, begins as a conference held once or twice each week where substantive discussion leads to preliminary conclusions. Sometimes, in order to find a majority, the court will take a minimalist perspective, allowing those who differ “on the broader legal questions to come together in answering narrower ones.” Noting that, in 2016, only 1 in 4 Americans could name the three branches of federal government, Breyer suggests a revival of civics education in schools so that students can learn how government works and what the rule of law is. He believes that confidence in government will result from citizens’ participation in public life: by voting, taking part in local governance such as school boards, and resolving their differences through argument, debate, cooperation, and compromise, all of which are “the embodiment of the democratic ideal.”

A cogent overview of the court’s crucial role, the application of which is sure to be discussed among scholars.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-674-26936-1

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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