A lively and rigorous deep dive into the ambiguous, still-relevant geopolitical odyssey that Churchill represents.

CHURCHILL'S SHADOW

THE LIFE AND AFTERLIFE OF WINSTON CHURCHILL

An authoritative examination of how Winston Churchill’s ongoing geopolitical impact refracts and supersedes his actual biography.

Former Spectator literary editor Wheatcroft brings superior scholarship, controlled, intermittently witty prose, and warts-and-all admiration to the acknowledged surfeit of writing about Churchill. With an evenhanded perspective, he explores how textuality and reputation simultaneously distort and amplify Churchill’s impact. “I’ve tried to write as what Keynes called ‘the historian of Opinion’, seeing Churchill through the eyes of his contemporaries,” he writes, providing a sinewy account of Churchill’s strange, singular life, with its political fluctuations, admirable and shameful qualities, and repeated seasons of rise and fall. “Churchill’s life until the age of sixty-five,” the author writes about his “apotheosis” in 1940, “had certainly been a dramatic roller-coaster ride of highs and lows…until that ultimate and complete triumph.” Wheatcroft adds materially to this well-known narrative by exploring “the darker side of his character and career, too often brushed over, and the long shadow which he has cast since his death.” The author vividly depicts every dramatic stage of Churchill’s experience, from a privileged upbringing propelling him from colonial adventurism to journalism and politics, through the disaster of Gallipoli during World War I, to his “wilderness years” of lucrative book deals and behind-the-scenes maneuvering, to his “walking with destiny” as Britain’s savior against Hitler. The author achieves a strong balance between crisp, dramatic historical storytelling and the words and views of both Churchill’s many contemporaries—not least the scoundrels comprising his inner circle—and the scholars and writers who have addressed his enigma ever since. His posthumous legend became ever more diffuse—e.g., after 9/11, when George W. Bush and Tony Blair adopted the Churchillian mantle in inaccurate and grotesque ways: “the Iraq War had gone horribly, and predictably, wrong but Blair was impenitent.”

A lively and rigorous deep dive into the ambiguous, still-relevant geopolitical odyssey that Churchill represents.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00276-5

Page Count: 656

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

As Wonder Woman might say, Suffering Sappho! This book is fascinating, fun, and consistently enlightening.

THE HEROINE WITH 1001 FACES

From Penelope and Pandora to Katniss Everdeen and Lisbeth Salander, the "hero's journey" gets a much-needed makeover.

In her latest, Tatar—the Harvard professor of folklore and mythology and Germanic languages and literature who has annotated collections of classic fairy tales, Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, among others—begins by pointing out that all of the faces of heroism discussed in Joseph Campbell's influential book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949), are male. To correct this requires a revision of the concept of heroism itself, rooted in numerous foundational texts. Starting with Greek mythology and Scheherezade and moving through the centuries all the way to the Game of Thrones series and The Queen's Gambit, Tatar incisively explores women's reinvention of heroism to embrace empathy, compassion, and care, often to pursue social justice. Among the many high points in this engaging study: an analysis of Little Women and Anne of Green Gables as autofiction, Jurassic Park as a reimagining of “Hansel and Gretel,” Harriet the Spy as an antiheroine, and a deep dive into the backstory of Wonder Woman. Receiving their own chapters are female sleuths such as Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, and the less well known characters of Kate Fansler, an academic, and Blanche White, who is Black. The book really takes off when it gets to contemporary culture, particularly in a section that identifies a female version of the "trickster" archetype in Everdeen and Salander. Of this lineage, among the shared interesting traits not traditionally associated with women characters is a prodigious appetite. "Like Gretel, Pippi Longstocking, and Lisbeth Salander before her,” writes Tatar, “Katniss gorges on rich food yet her hunger never ceases." The text is illustrated with many reproductions of paintings and other artwork—including a postcardworthy panel from the original Wonder Woman—that add much to the text.

As Wonder Woman might say, Suffering Sappho! This book is fascinating, fun, and consistently enlightening.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-881-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more