Despite countless books about Lincoln and those in his orbit, Chase is an important figure who merits this capable study.

SALMON P. CHASE

LINCOLN'S VITAL RIVAL

In a follow-up to Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man and Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary, Stahr turns his attention to the president’s treasury secretary.

Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873) was also the sixth chief justice of the Supreme Court and a major player in pushing for Black emancipation and voting rights, and he created the first national bank system and paper currency at a time of deep conflict and crisis during the Civil War. Born in New Hampshire, Chase cut his teeth in Ohio law and politics, where he evolved from an ambitious dilettante regarding slavery to a ferocious defender of fugitive slaves and Black voting rights. His parents died young, leaving behind 10 children and “substantial debt,” and Chase went to live with one of his uncles, an Episcopalian bishop who founded Kenyon College. Like many Chases before him, he graduated from Dartmouth College and studied law until he passed the bar in 1829. In Stahr’s overlong yet sturdy narrative, Chase emerges a driven young man determined to make his mark. He headed a vigorous law practice in Cincinnati and served in the Senate and as the governor of Ohio. As the nation began to break apart along pro- and anti-slavery lines, Chase embraced the Whig Party but found ultimately that it could not incorporate the anti-slavery movement. He advocated first for the Liberty Party, then became an important founder of the Republican Party, on whose ticket Lincoln ran for president. While Chase was brought up multiple times as a presidential candidate, he was best suited as ally, and Lincoln relied on him, despite the rival status, as treasury secretary during the Civil War and then as chief justice. During his tenure as justice, he supported the first Black man to the bar and dissented strongly in a case that prohibited a woman from practicing law. He also presided over the Andrew Johnson impeachment, a key moment in this well-researched account.

Despite countless books about Lincoln and those in his orbit, Chase is an important figure who merits this capable study.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9923-3

Page Count: 832

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

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GOING THERE

The veteran newscaster reflects on her triumphs and hardships, both professional and private.

In this eagerly anticipated memoir, Couric (b. 1957) transforms the events of her long, illustrious career into an immensely readable story—a legacy-preserving exercise, for sure, yet judiciously polished and insightful, several notches above the fray of typical celebrity memoirs. The narrative unfolds through a series of lean chapters as she recounts the many career ascendency steps that led to her massively successful run on the Today Show and comparably disappointing stints as CBS Evening News anchor, talk show host, and Yahoo’s Global News Anchor. On the personal front, the author is candid in her recollections about her midlife adventures in the dating scene and deeply sorrowful and affecting regarding the experience of losing her husband to colon cancer as well as the deaths of other beloved family members, including her sister and parents. Throughout, Couric maintains a sharp yet cool-headed perspective on the broadcast news industry and its many outsized personalities and even how her celebrated role has diminished in recent years. “It’s AN ADJUSTMENT when the white-hot spotlight moves on,” she writes. “The ego gratification of being the It girl is intoxicating (toxic being the root of the word). When that starts to fade, it takes some getting used to—at least it did for me.” Readers who can recall when network news coverage and morning shows were not only relevant, but powerfully influential forces will be particularly drawn to Couric’s insights as she tracks how the media has evolved over recent decades and reflects on the negative effects of the increasing shift away from reliable sources of informed news coverage. The author also discusses recent important cultural and social revolutions, casting light on issues of race and sexual orientation, sexism, and the predatory behavior that led to the #MeToo movement. In that vein, she expresses her disillusionment with former co-host and friend Matt Lauer.

A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53586-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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