2/18/2018

Review: One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported

One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported by E.J. Dionne Jr.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have found myself reading a lot about the 2016 election and trying to understand the direction our country has taken over the last decade. I believe in democracy and anyone who has studied history knows that this is not the first time that nativism and popularism have taken hold. Fortunately, the system at large always seems to self-correct. Nevertheless, I fear that self-correction and a move back towards moderation will be a slow process in today's political climate.

Overall, it's a short but thought-provoking read. I think the authors do a good job analyzing the results of the 2016 election and in explaining why pockets of the population voted the way they did, as well as spell out the challenges facing our democracy moving into the next election. The second part of the book focused on areas where there is potential for compromise and collaboration and discusses how to move forward from here. It does not necessarily spell out solutions but rather starts the conversation on a number of topics, including the economy, immigration, and racial tensions, where compromise is possible. The authors argue that through these compromises, we can start to bridge the gap between our two polarized parties and get back to a place where we are living up to our country's ideals.

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Review: The Witches: Salem, 1692

The Witches: Salem, 1692 The Witches: Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Oh, boy! This was a hard one to get through, which was surprising to me because I find the Salem Witch Trials so fascinating. I appreciated that the book appeared well researched and included many primary sources. However, I found it to be long-winded, meandering, and full of tangents that needed to be edited out. I think that's what took me so long to get through it. I could only take it in small doses and it hurt my enjoyment of the book.

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2/04/2018

Review: The Deal of a Lifetime

The Deal of a Lifetime The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a sweet story about love and death, which has a George Bailey-like feel. At its heart, it asks the question: Who would you be willing to sacrifice your life for? Or really, would you be willing to sacrifice your life for someone else if it meant that you would never exit? As humans, we are concerned about our legacy or what we are leaving behind. We want to be remembered, to have others know that we existed, that we mattered. It was a thought-provoking little story, which I enjoyed.

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Review: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I don't think the book states anything that people don't already know about Mr. Trump. To be fair, some of the information in the book has been debunked, but even lies have some basis in the truth. His supports won't read this book and the people who do, namely people who are not supporters, won't be surprised by anything in the book. It's not really a bombshell. I read this book for the sheer entertainment value.

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1/27/2018

Review: The Last Black Unicorn

The Last Black Unicorn The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was unexpected. I wasn’t very familiar with Tiffany Haddish’s life or work before reading this book. I saw her give a few interviews while promoting the book and found her to be quite entertaining. I decided to listen to the audiobook because it is read by Haddish herself, which, for me, adds to the experience. I love when I get the chance to hear a person’s story in their own voice.

Like so many other comedians, Haddish’s past is full of sad and traumatic events. Yet, she has been able to find the funny in otherwise unfunny situations. Her narrative is witty, observant, and honest. I laughed out loud throughout the whole thing and was brought to near tears during the painful parts. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this audiobook.

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Review: Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House

Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House by Donna Brazile
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was horrified by the 2016 presidential election for many reasons. I was upset by the discourse, the choice of candidates, the lack of civility and the polarization of our two-party system. When it was reported that the DNC had been hacked by the Russians, that added a whole new dimension to the election. A hostile foreign nation made a concerted effort to influence our fair and free election, the hallmark of our democracy. Politics is a dirty game, probably dirtier than we would all like to admit.

While I consider myself an independent, I do tend to lean Democratic. However, like the Republicans, I think the Democrats have also forgotten who they are and what the core values of their party are. I read this book to get Brazile’s side of the story. I knew going into the book that it would be a biased account and that it was her opportunity to address some of the criticism hurled at her during the campaign. But I didn’t disagree with a lot of her ideas. She stressed the need for both parties to take a step back and reevaluate who they are and what they really stand for. I agree with her that the Democratic party needs to get back to and embrace the grassroots movements that are happening all over the country and work to embrace the base, as well as to grow it. I also agree with her point that the government needs to do more to prevent foreign enemies from interfering in our elections.

I don’t think this book will change anyone’s opinion about Brazile and the DNC’s handling of the 2016 presidential election, although I do not feel that the full blame rests on her shoulders. It certainly offers a window into what happened behind closed doors and to the many mistakes that led to the Democrat’s defeat in the election. The DNC has a lot of soul-searching and rebuilding to do.


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Review: The Zookeeper's Wife

The Zookeeper's Wife The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this one. I have always found the World War II era fascinating and have spent a lot of time studying it and reading about it. I think what draws me to the era is that it represents both the best and worst of humanity simultaneously. I have read many accounts surrounding this era, but I haven’t read much about Poland, Hitler’s first target. While the novel is nonfiction, it reads like a fiction novel, although I felt that the fiction feeling wasn’t consistent throughout the whole novel. Overall, I thought it was a beautiful story and I was struck by the bravery and resilience of the Polish people and the Zabinski family.

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