An impressive work of deep research that moves smoothly along biographical as well as legal lines.



A thorough biography of the Supreme Court justice who famously said, “our Constitution is color blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”

Canellos, the former executive editor of Politico, delivers the riveting story of a courageous Kentucky lawyer who initiated significant challenges to anti–civil rights measures during an era of ubiquitous bigotry. John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911) is remembered especially by his ringing Supreme Court dissents in three disgraceful cases passed by near unanimity: the Civil Rights Cases of 1883, focused on arbitrary discrimination by establishments; Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, which established the “separate but equal” doctrine of Jim Crow segregation in public spaces for the next 60 years; and Lochner v. New York, a setback for labor legislation that would become especially troublesome during the New Deal. In 1876, Harlan was appointed to the Supreme Court by the recently elected president, Rutherford Hayes, who desired a Southerner for the post—though the Great Dissenter would prove to be a decidedly “eccentric” Southerner. Harlan grew up in a family that owned slaves, including his half brother, Robert, who built a successful career for himself as a freed man. Canellos shows how Robert, “horse-racing impresario, gold rush entrepreneur, financier of Black-owned businesses, world traveler, state representative, and leading Black citizen in Ohio,” had a profound impact on his brother. Despite the fact that the final postwar civil rights amendment had been ratified in 1870, by the time Harlan was appointed, the meaning of all of them was still unclear. Harlan was the lone voice insisting that a “legal revolution had been won on the battlefields of Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, and Manassas.” His dissent “provided the only shred of faith in the system, the only real evidence that America wasn’t completely separating along color lines.” Given the recent heated debates about Supreme Court justices and civil rights legislation, this expert biography is especially timely and significant.

An impressive work of deep research that moves smoothly along biographical as well as legal lines.

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8820-6

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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