Terrific detective work revealing a man determined to forge his own destiny when his country said he couldn’t.



The picaresque adventures of a former slave’s son who achieved glory in both world wars and was nearly forgotten by his own country.

Two intrepid authors and researchers—military historian and former Navy aviator Keith (America and the Great War: A 100th Anniversary Commemorative of America in World War I, 2019, etc.), a Purple Heart recipient, and Clavin (Wild Bill: The True Story of the American Frontier’s First Gunfighter, 2019, etc.)—team up in this dogged effort to excavate the facts of the amazing life of Eugene Bullard (1895-1961). In 1959, France recognized the achievements of the American pilot and soldier with its highest honor, the Legion of Honor, which subsequently gained Bullard, then an elevator operator at Rockefeller Center, his 15 minutes of fame on The Today Show. However, there was much that was never revealed in Bullard’s remarkable trajectory from indigent runaway to Jazz Age impresario and many details he fudged or perhaps forgot in an era of turbulent race relations when he later wrote his autobiography. Two traumatic events in his childhood propelled him to strike out on his own at age 11: the death of his Creek Indian mother when he was 6 and a white mob’s threatening to lynch his Haitian-born laborer father after a violent altercation with his foreman. Bullard managed never to look back, and the “French connection” from his roots propelled him to “a land where racial prejudice did not exist”—or so he imagined. The authors diligently pursue his story: learning to box in Scotland and then arriving in France just as World War I broke out; getting wounded at Verdun before embarking on a legendary, if short-lived position as a fighter pilot, probably the first black American to do so; and forging a career as a nightclub and athletic club owner in Paris before his next soldierly stint in World War II. Keith and Clavin constantly keep readers guessing about Bullard’s next move.

Terrific detective work revealing a man determined to forge his own destiny when his country said he couldn’t.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00556-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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