For those wondering what happened to America between 2017 and 2021, Schiff offers a key firsthand account.

MIDNIGHT IN WASHINGTON

HOW WE ALMOST LOST OUR DEMOCRACY AND STILL COULD

A full-throated denunciation of Donald Trump and his congressional enablers.

Every small-d democratic institution in America was threatened during Trump’s years in the White House. But as Schiff notes, “no institution suffered more under the Trump presidency than Congress, which saw its oversight powers emasculated and its impeachment power rendered obsolete.” The problem was that much of the damage was “self-inflicted” by members of the GOP, a party that has “become an antitruth, antidemocratic cult organized around the former president.” That Schiff was a leading Trump critic and manager of the first impeachment did not endear him to the president. Though Trump sent an odd signal of admiration by way of Jared Kushner, whom Schiff pegs as a “smooth operator,” the former president spent most of his energies in infantile calumniation, calling the author “Shifty Schiff” and the like. Schiff repaid the attention by assembling a careful case against Trump, one that, Schiff avers, proved the president’s guilt but did not convince enough Republicans that there was a good answer to the questions, “Why should I be the one to remove him? Why should I risk my seat, my position of power and influence, my career and future?...Why should I?” Most of this book, bracketed by horrific scenes from the Jan. 6 mob attack on the Capitol—of which Trump, Schiff insists, was the prime mover—is a long, densely detailed account of the discovery process in the first impeachment trial. It would threaten to become tedious reading, due to all the minutiae, were it not for Schiff’s skill as a storyteller, a skill useful for a trial attorney to have, and for his habit of peppering his narrative with withering assaults on McConnell, Gosar, Barr, et. al. He also offers the revelation that many leading Republicans have urged him in private (while publicly disavowing having said any such thing), “Keep doing what you’re doing.”

For those wondering what happened to America between 2017 and 2021, Schiff offers a key firsthand account.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-23152-4

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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

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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

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