A surprisingly satisfying tribute to the vigor that immigrants bring to the nation’s culture and economy.

OUT OF MANY, ONE

PORTRAITS OF AMERICA'S IMMIGRANTS

The former president takes up brush and pen to portray nearly four dozen immigrants and highlight their contributions.

Bush’s latest book reveals a couple of things. One is that any discussion of immigration reform is likely to be difficult and even a little schizophrenic. The author argues for strongly enforced borders, a thorough reform of the immigration system, and “full assimilation of immigrants into the American economy and culture.” Another is that the former president has, like Dwight Eisenhower, become a serviceable painter in his retirement. The political point is the more important, though Bush protests that he withheld publication until the 2020 election had passed lest any of his subjects become political hostages. As well they might have: One of the immigrants is a Mexican man who arrived illegally as a teenager, worked as a mechanic and painter, and then founded a produce company that nets $60 million per year. Though he became a citizen along the way, that’s just the sort of thing to set a nativist’s blood boiling. Arnold Schwarzenegger, depicted with a horsey grin and an Uncle Sam top hat, subtly addresses those nativists: “I wish every American realized that being born here is the greatest opportunity. You don’t know how lucky you are. And because of that, it’s our duty to do everything in our power to leave a better America to the next generation.” Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright take their places alongside a North Korean refugee who works in Bush’s organization and an Iraqi interpreter who legally changed his name to Tony George Bush. A few of Bush’s subjects are of modest achievement, but many, including Dominican baseball star Albert Pujols and Swedish-born golf celebrity Annika Sörenstam, have made outsize marks. The author also includes a two-page flow chart that shows the impossibly complex ways (there are four of them) “to obtain a green card” in the U.S.

A surprisingly satisfying tribute to the vigor that immigrants bring to the nation’s culture and economy.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13696-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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