A deeply felt, swift-moving account of war and its complex aftermath.

THEY CALLED US "LUCKY"

THE LIFE AND AFTERLIFE OF THE IRAQ WAR'S HARDEST HIT UNIT

A Marine-turned-politician recounts his time under fire in Iraq.

An ambitious but poor youngChicagoan, Gallego worked his way to a Harvard scholarship—and then, as he readily allows, partied hard enough to be asked to leave. Aimless, he joined the Marine Corps after 9/11 and was packed off to boot camp, where he tried to keep the Harvard connection quiet. His drill instructor found out and upbraided him: “Why the hell aren’t you an officer?...Are you stupid?” The author’s well-reasoned response in this agile memoir is to note that the division between Marine recruit and Harvard undergrad isn’t the political one of conservative versus liberal but instead a more abiding one of class and, to some extent, ethnicity. “Statistically,” writes Gallego, “you won’t find many young Latino males raised by single women in households with sketchy backgrounds getting college degrees, let alone from Harvard. The odds were far better that I’d be in prison, or even dead.” By the odd logic of the Marine Corps, Gallego was assigned to a reserve unit in New Mexico and sent to Iraq, where, for a time, his company was dubbed “Lucky Lima” for not having taken casualties. That luck soon ran out. Toward the end of Gallego's tour, Lima “had the dubious honor of being the hardest hit unit in the Marine Corps since the bombing at Beirut.” Gallego writes affectingly of his friendship with a young Navajo man who died there, one reason that, now a liberal Democrat and Arizona congressman, he takes an active legislative interest in Native American affairs. Condemning the Iraq misadventure as a political stunt—of a visiting Dick Cheney, he writes, “This asshole pushed us into a war that we didn’t need and then didn’t get us the armor that we did need”—the author notes that his training has helped put discipline in his life. It also saved others on Jan. 6, when he and fellow veterans helped their congressional colleagues escape the insurrectionary mob.

A deeply felt, swift-moving account of war and its complex aftermath.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-304581-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A Trump idolator’s dream book. Everyone else should stay far away.

THE CHIEF'S CHIEF

Donald Trump’s former chief of staff serves up servile homage to a man he’s sure will make a comeback bid in 2024.

No president could ask for a more fawning yes man than Meadows. Trump is a genius, a savior, the author avers in this cliché-stuffed, formulaic celebration. He’s a bulwark against what Trump calls “the Radical Left Democrat Communist Party.” That speech he gave at Mount Rushmore, if anyone remembers it? “One of the finest in American history.” Of course, Trump, God’s personal pick, didn’t really lose the 2020 election. When things go wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. For example, Trump appointed Kavanaugh and Gorsuch to the Supreme Court only for them to rule “in ways that were deeply disappointing to the MAGA movement that had made their appointments possible.” Thanks to Pelosi and the Dems, the economy, formerly strong “due to the work of President Trump and his advisors,” tanked during the pandemic. Speaking of which, “had it not been for the China Virus, we could have spent the past months reaching more voters and running up our historic vote totals even higher”—not to mention battling Fauci, Milley, and countless other enemies. If there’s a conspiracy to be found or an enemy to be named, Meadows does so. Sometimes he falls off message, as when he writes of a typical campaign rally, “the energy of these patriots, all united for a common cause, celebrating their prosperity and patriotism in a shared space, is something you can’t describe until you’re in the middle of the crowd with them.” Prosperity or forgotten/downtrodden Americans: You can’t have it both ways. As for the Jan. 6 mob? All Meadows can muster is a pale “what occurred that day was shameful”—with the immediate deflection that a few bad apples spoiled a noble showing of support for their heroic leader.

A Trump idolator’s dream book. Everyone else should stay far away.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73747-852-2

Page Count: 308

Publisher: All Seasons Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

THIS TIME NEXT YEAR WE'LL BE LAUGHING

The bestselling author recalls her childhood and her family’s wartime experiences.

Readers of Winspear’s popular Maisie Dobbs mystery series appreciate the London investigator’s canny resourcefulness and underlying humanity as she solves her many cases. Yet Dobbs had to overcome plenty of hardships in her ascent from her working-class roots. Part of the appeal of Winspear’s Dobbs series are the descriptions of London and the English countryside, featuring vividly drawn particulars that feel like they were written with firsthand knowledge of that era. In her first book of nonfiction, the author sheds light on the inspiration for Dobbs and her stories as she reflects on her upbringing during the 1950s and ’60s. She focuses much attention on her parents’ lives and their struggles supporting a family, as they chose to live far removed from their London pasts. “My parents left the bombsites and memories of wartime London for an openness they found in the country and on the land,” writes Winspear. As she recounts, each of her parents often had to work multiple jobs, which inspired the author’s own initiative, a trait she would apply to the Dobbs character. Her parents recalled grueling wartime experiences as well as stories of the severe battlefield injuries that left her grandfather shell-shocked. “My mother’s history,” she writes, “became my history—probably because I was young when she began telling me….Looking back, her stories—of war, of abuse at the hands of the people to whom she and her sisters had been billeted when evacuated from London, of seeing the dead following a bombing—were probably too graphic for a child. But I liked listening to them.” Winspear also draws distinctive portraits of postwar England, altogether different from the U.S., where she has since settled, and her unsettling struggles within the rigid British class system.

An engaging childhood memoir and a deeply affectionate tribute to the author’s parents.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64129-269-6

Page Count: 314

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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