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Search tags: history-of-the-us-21st-century-plus
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review 2019-01-14 22:16
Elizabeth Warren: Her Fight. Her Work. Her Life. - Antonia Felix

This is a biography of one of the most remarkable political leaders in the United States to emerge in the past decade.


Elizabeth Warren, born into a working class family in Oklahoma, is the embodiment of what has come to be known as the American Dream. By dint of sheer hard work and scholarship, she earned a university degree and a law degree, all while raising a family. She went on to teach law at Rutgers University, the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1995 was offered a position to teach law at Harvard, where she went on to become a tenured professor.

I first became aware of Elizabeth Warren in 2011 when her work in the establishment of what became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was highlighted by President Obama's naming of Richard Cordray to head that bureau. I was impressed with her knowledge of consumer and economic issues and when she decided to challenge in 2012 the Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) for the Senate seat previously held by Ted Kennedy and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, my interest in her began to grow. 

Antonia Felix has done a wonderful job through this biography in making real the manner of person Elizabeth Warren is. Unlike a significant number of politicians on Capitol Hill today who came into elective office (many of them from privileged backgrounds) to derive some benefits for themselves by currying favor with the corporate lobbies that have an inordinate and excessive influence in the shaping of legislation relating to policies and practices in the marketplace, Elizabeth Warren won election in 2012 to the Senate as an outsider willing to work on the inside for the public interest. She has proven to be the real deal. She's got grit, spunk, compassion, and saavy to get things done. And now that she has declared herself a candidate from the Democratic Party for President of the United States in 2020, I am hopeful that Elizabeth Warren will prevail against her detractors and critics, while inspiring millions across the nation to support her campaign and make it successful.

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review 2018-05-06 00:51
Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling - Matthew Chozick

"CHASING HILLARY: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling" is the fourth book on U.S. presidential campaigns that I have read. The other three being "The Making of the President, 1960", "The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK's Five-Year Campaign", and "The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America."

On the whole, "CHASING HILLARY" is a multi-sided book which tells the story of Hillary Clinton's two presidential campaigns (the first in 2008 in which she failed to secure the Democratic nomination and the 2016 campaign, in which she made history as the first woman to be nominated for President by a major political party), and sheds some light on the author's life and journalistic career, as well as her up and down relationship with Hillary Clinton herself. I liked reading this book, its story (most of which was centered on the 2016 campaign) was easy to follow, and I learned some things about Hillary Clinton (even after following her career over the past 26 years) that I didn't know before. 

The truly painful part of reading "CHASING HILLARY" for me was the author's recounting of Election Night and the day after. It brought to my mind the mostly sleepless night I had November 8/9, 2016, listening to the returns by radio, and then turning off the radio when the outcome proved to be the worst imaginable. 

For anyone who wants to get a better feel for who Hillary Clinton is and what she came to represent for so many people across the nation - and a personal insight from someone who covered the 2016 Clinton campaign up close for The New York Times from start to finish - read "CHASING HILLARY."

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review 2016-10-27 02:15
Breakthrough: The Making of America's First Woman President - Nancy L. Cohen

Earlier this year, I attended a book reading at a local bookstore where Nancy L. Cohen gave an expansive and compelling presentation about the discoveries she made and interviews she carried out with a variety of women political leaders, analysts, and activists (of varying ages) in her latest book, "BREAKTHROUGH: The Making of America's First Woman President." She gave me much food for thought as someone who has been deeply frustrated with our current dysfunctional political system (Capitol Hill). So, it was that several weeks later, I bought this book and began to read it with great care.

"Breakthrough" is very readable and provides the reader with "an intimate portrait of the savvy women who have built an alternative to the old boy's club and are rewriting the playbook for how women can rise and thrive in politics." The reader also learns how far women in the U.S. had to go in terms of securing their rights as full-fledged citizens, as well as proving themselves as effective legislators on the state and national levels. Indeed, we as a nation have now advanced to the point that we have a well-qualified, proven and experienced candidate in Hillary Rodham Clinton who may be elected as the next President of the United States very soon.

Thank you, Nancy L. Cohen, for showing me how much closer the U.S. can come to achieving "a more perfect union" through utilizing the energies and talents of women who see public service as a means for building a better society for everyone.

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review 2015-12-27 17:48
GORE VIDAL: A Colossus Unlike Any Other
Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal - Jay Parini

During his lifetime, Gore Vidal established a fine reputation as a very versatile, inventive writer. Novels, tele-scripts (in the early days of TV in the 1950s, Vidal made a name for himself as a scriptwriter for many of the live teledramas of the era), movie scripts, plays (one of them, "The Best Man" was a Broadway hit in 1960), and essays. Vidal was also a wit, polemicist, gadfly, and socio-political critic unlike any other. Whether you encountered him on any of the popular TV talk shows (e.g. The Dick Cavett Show or The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson), documentaries in which his considerable knowledge of politics, history & literature were given free rein, public lectures and interviews he gave, or his books, Gore Vidal was someone you would not soon forget.


Jay Parini, who had known Vidal over the last 30 years of his life, has crafted a first class, rich, comprehensive, and well-rounded biography. This is a work that was developed throughout Parini's relationship with Vidal. Indeed, Vidal had granted Parini full access to all his papers and access to many of Vidal's closest friends in the literary, political, and cinematic worlds. And for Gore Vidal --- whose writing career extended from the publication of his first novel ("Williwaw" based on his wartime experiences with the U.S. Army in the Aleutian Islands) in 1946 to the publication of his last novel, "The Golden Age" in 2000 ---- his circle of friends was amazingly extensive, from Amelia Earhart (who had a close relationship with his father, a West Point graduate and pilot who was a pioneer in the aviation industry and had worked for FDR in the early days of the New Deal), to Eleanore Roosevelt, John & Jacqueline Kennedy, Tennessee Williams, Paul Newman & Joanne Woodward, Claire Bloom, Susan Sarandon & Tim Robbins, Anthony Burgess, Federico Fellini, Italo Calvino, Christopher Isherwood, Andre Gide, Thomas Mann, Norman Mailer, and Hillary Clinton. Just to mention a few.


As a Gore Vidal fan of many years standing, I confess to not having given much thought to his personal life while he was alive. His novels, essays, and his public persona are what drew me to this remarkable man. He was the type of person who was so amazingly erudite, funny, and astute that I'd find myself thinking about some of the issues he touched upon in public forums and interviews long after being exposed to them. This is not to suggest that I agreed or agree with all of Gore Vidal's positions on life, politics, history or literature. BUT he had a personality and a ferocious, far-reaching brilliance that never ceased to fascinate me. He was never dull. Indeed, I was fortunate enough to have once met Gore Vidal at an interview he gave at the Smithsonian Institution about his life and career at the time "The Golden Age" was published. After the interview, he autographed my copy of his novel and all I can remember about the experience was how awestruck I was by his presence.


The biography traces the arc of Vidal's life from his birth at the cadet hospital at West Point in 1925 (where his father was the U.S. Army's first instructor of aeronautics), through his formative years in Washington DC (where he spent considerable time with his maternal grandparents; his grandfather Thomas Gore, had been a Senator from Oklahoma, and played a considerable influence on the young Gore), prep school at Exeter, his wartime service, and his steady growth and development as a writer from the early postwar years to the early 21st century.


One of the best features of "EMPIRE OF SELF: A Life of Gore Vidal" are the asides that Parini includes after each chapter which contain "brief first-person vignettes" and "recollections of moments" in Parini's friendship with Vidal that are especially illuminating about Vidal on a deeply personal level. Anyone with even the slightest interest or curiosity about Gore Vidal will love this book. I highly recommend it.

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