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

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I ALONE CAN FIX IT

DONALD J. TRUMP'S CATASTROPHIC FINAL YEAR

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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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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