Tag: Books: Nonfiction


Review: Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump

Posted 10 August, 2020 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump
By: Kate Andersen Brower
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

After serving the highest office of American government, five men—Jimmy Carter, the late George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama—became members of the world’s most exclusive fraternity. In Team of Five, Kate Andersen Brower goes beyond the White House to uncover what, exactly, comes after the presidency, offering a glimpse into the complex relationships of these five former presidents, and how each of these men views his place in a nation that has been upended by the Oval Office’s current, norm-breaking occupant, President Donald Trump.

With an empathetic yet critical eye and firsthand testimony from the Carters, Donald Trump, and the top aides, friends, and family members of the five former presidents, Team of Five takes us inside the exclusive world of these powerful men and their families, including the unlikely friendship between George W. Bush and Michelle Obama, the last private visits Bill Clinton and Barack Obama shared with George H.W. Bush, and the Obamas’ flight to Palm Springs after Donald Trump’s inauguration. Perhaps most timely, this insightful, illuminating book overflows with anecdotes about how the ex-presidents are working to combat President Trump’s attempts to undo the achievements and hard work accomplished during their own terms.

Perhaps most poignantly, Team of Five sheds light on the inherent loneliness and inevitable feelings of powerlessness and frustration that come with no longer being the most important person in the world, but a leader with only symbolic power. There are ways, though, that these men, and their wives, have become powerful political and cultural forces in American life, even as so-called “formers.”

This is not the first book I’ve read about the Presidents Club; it’s a fascinating piece of American politics and the fabric of the nation, of wht role former Presidents serve after they leave office. This book caught my attention as I was interested to read how much has changed–or stayed the same–with Trump becoming president, and his interaction with the Presidents Club. This is also not my first Kate Andersen Brower book, having read her book on the First Wives (review).

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Review: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup

Posted 26 June, 2020 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup
By: John Carreyrou
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup “unicorn” promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes’s worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn’t work.

A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.

I was curious to check out this book after I had seen the trailer of The Inventor. I had heard of the Elizabeth Holmes story in passing but nothing in great detail so when this book came up during a sale on Kobo I figured it was a good time to check it out.

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Review: We Need New Stories

Posted 9 June, 2020 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

We Need New Stories: Challenging the Toxic Myths Behind Our Age of Discontent
By: Nesrine Malik
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

It is becoming clear that the old frames of reference are not working, that the narratives used for decades to stave off progressive causes are being exposed as falsehoods. Six myths have taken hold, ones which are at odds with our lived experience and in urgent need of revision.

Has freedom of speech become a cover for promoting prejudice? Has the concept of political correctness been weaponised to avoid ceding space to those excluded from power? Does white identity politics pose an urgent danger? These are some of the questions at the centre of Nesrine Malik’s radical and compelling analysis that challenges us to find new narrators whose stories can fill the void and unite us behind a shared vision.

I first heard about this book from the Guardian books podcast. It sounded really interesting so I decided to check it out last year.

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Review: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History

Posted 25 May, 2020 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History
By: John M. Barry
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

At the height of WWI, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in an army camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100 million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four months than AIDS killed in twenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not the Middle Ages, and 1918 marked the first collision of science and epidemic disease.

Magisterial in its breadth of perspective and depth of research and now revised to reflect the growing danger of the avian flu, The Great Influenza is ultimately a tale of triumph amid tragedy, which provides us with a precise and sobering model as we confront the epidemics looming on our own horizon.

People told me this might not be the best time to read this book given what’s going on around the world with COVID-19 but I thought there was no better time than now to read this book. There’s a lot of similarities mentioned between the two pandemics and it was something I didn’t read as much when I was in school, having always focused on the wider geopolitics.

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Review: Frantumaglia

Posted 28 April, 2020 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey
By: Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translator)
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase

In this collection of writings and responses gathered from over 30 years of correspondence, the reclusive Italian author addresses her unwavering decision to remain anonymous, her literary inspirations, Italian politics and culture, and the role of the writer (and the publisher) in modern society. Ferrante’s voice is as direct, penetrating, acute, inspiring, and intimate as it is in her acclaimed novels.

This book invites readers into Elena Ferrante’s workshop. It offers a glimpse into the drawers of her writing desk, those drawers from which emerged her three early standalone novels and the four installments of My Brilliant Friend, known in English as the Neapolitan Quartet. Consisting of letters, essays, reflections, and interviews, it is a unique depiction of an author who embodies a consummate passion for writing.

In these pages Ferrante answers many of her readers’ questions she addresses her choice to stand aside and let her books live autonomous lives. She discusses her thoughts and concerns as her novels are being adapted into films. She talks about the challenge of finding concise answers to interview questions. She explains the joys and the struggles of writing, the anguish of composing a story only to discover that that story isn’t good enough. She contemplates her relationship with psychoanalysis, with the cities she has lived in, with motherhood, with feminism, and with her childhood as a storehouse for memories, impressions, and fantasies. The result is a vibrant and intimate self-portrait of a writer at work.

I finally read it, omg. This book has been sitting on my TBR pile for some time now. I’ve read pretty much all of her books to date save for maybe one or two of the more recent stuff, but I was pretty excited for this one because it promised to provide insight into her writing process her thoughts aout writing and her stories and whatnot.

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