An agreeable historical travelogue.

TRAVELS WITH GEORGE

IN SEARCH OF WASHINGTON AND HIS LEGACY

Retracing the path George Washington took during five grueling trips across the nation during the first years of his presidency.

Taking his cue from John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, Philbrick chronicles his journey with his wife and dog. Unlike Steinbeck, he doesn’t claim that they were roughing it. Offering an instructive history lesson, the author reminds readers that the Constitution did not pass by a landslide. Many Americans, perhaps a majority, had supported the Revolution, but there was no mass movement in favor of a strong central government. The Constitution was the work of America’s educated elite, and even their support was far from unanimous. One of the original supporters, Washington, as portrayed by Philbrick, is an impressive figure who knew that he was a national icon, but this did not go to his head. Creating government institutions from scratch was difficult, but Washington had plenty of help. Convincing several million ex-colonists that they belonged to a single, united nation was his job alone because no one commanded his level of respect: “Only Washington could have formed an enduring national government in a country created by a revolution.” Touring every state to show himself and inspire a sense of nationalism was a sensible tactic, so that’s what he did. One issue that Philbrick doesn’t entirely address is that little of great interest occurred during Washington’s trips. The roads were terrible, the local inns dirty, and the receptions ecstatic. Crowds gathered, officials made speeches, and Washington mingled with admirers of all ages, many of whom recorded the experience in letters and diaries. Occasionally, he saw former colleagues or a familiar battlefield or dealt with political events back home. Though some histories of the era treat slavery as an unfortunate footnote, Philbrick does not shy away from pointing out its evils. When he cuts back to the present, roads and accommodations improve, and he encounters monuments, museums, and local historians who describe details of Washington’s visit and, more often than not, disprove a popular myth.

An agreeable historical travelogue.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-56217-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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?

Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

THE BASEBALL 100

Longtime sports journalist Posnanski takes on a project fraught with the possibilities of controversy: ranking the 100 best baseball players of all time.

It would steal the author’s thunder to reveal his No. 1. However, writing about that player, Posnanski notes, “the greatest baseball player is the one who lifts you higher and makes you feel exactly like you did when you fell in love with this crazy game in the first place.” Working backward, his last-but-not-least place is occupied by Japanese outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, whose valiant hitting rivaled Pete Rose’s, mostly a base at a time. As for Rose, who comes in at No. 60, Posnanski writes, “here’s something people don’t often say about the young Pete Rose, but it’s true: The guy was breathtakingly fast.” Thus, in his first pro season, Rose stole 30 bases and hit 30 triples. That he was somewhat of a lout is noted but exaggerated. Posnanski skillfully weaves statistics into the narrative without spilling into geekdom, and he searches baseball history for his candidate pool while combing the records for just the right datum or quote: No. 10 Satchel Paige on No. 15 Josh Gibson: “You look for his weakness, and while you’re looking for it he’s liable to hit 45 home runs.” Several themes emerge, one being racial injustice. As Posnanski notes of “the greatest Negro Leagues players....people tend to talk about them as if there is some doubt about their greatness.” There’s not, as No. 94, Roy Campanella, among many others, illustrates. He was Sicilian, yes, but also Black, then reason enough to banish him to the minors until finally calling him up in 1948. Another significant theme is the importance of fathers in shaping players, from Mickey Mantle to Cal Ripken and even Rose. Posnanski’s account of how the Cy Young Award came about is alone worth the price of admission.

Red meat, and mighty tasty at that, for baseball fans with an appreciation for the past and power of the game.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982180-58-4

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

more