MixedThe Washington PostThe most successful and satisfying [political memoirs] make a significant political argument or draw back the curtain to reveal previously unknown details and truths about the authors and the events they have witnessed. In this regard Heart of Fire, which traces Mazie Hirono’s journey from poor immigrant to U.S. senator, is partially successful. When Hirono writes about her childhood, her mother and family, their arrival in Hawaii from Japan, and the poverty, hardship, fear and struggle they faced, Heart of Fire is a revelatory, evocative, deeply moving book.
The sections dealing with Hirono’s political rise in Hawaii and her time in Congress are more guarded and less compelling ... Hirono does call out some political allies and others she believes have crossed her or let her down along the way. But as a Democratic senator she clearly feels constrained from making significant criticisms or revelations about her own party and leadership ... One of the few revelatory anecdotes in the book involves Clinton and her book about the presidential campaign ... In many ways Heart of Fire is two books: Hirono’s courageous and vivid depiction of growing up in Hawaii as a poor immigrant, and her account of a political life, laden with details but lacking the same vibrancy and candor. Uniting the two, however, is the fire Hirono inherited from her mother, which she has used to oppose Trump and congressional Republicans.
PanThe Washington PostOne senses in this account that, like many others, Karl is both attracted and somewhat repelled by Trump largely because of his propensity to lie ... Karl, writing before the coronavirus outbreak, seems to argue that some reporters have been too tough on Trump ... Karl’s book is chiefly a compilation of his encounters and interviews with Trump and members of his staff. There is far too much recounting, often in somewhat tedious detail, of Karl’s daily coverage of Trump ... It’s an account of things we have mostly seen and heard before, and it lacks analysis of the larger issues Trump and his presidency represent.
MixedThe Washington PostThe book, simply written in relatively few words, is a call to arms and a manual for campaign volunteers ... This is not really a detailed argument for why Trump should be defeated—that is a given to Plouffe and probably anyone who buys this book. Plouffe is preaching to the faithful here, and frequently sounding somewhat overwrought while doing it ... He’s not really wrong...but one can almost picture Plouffe on the verge of hyperventilating as he writes that his horror at Trump’s election had a greater impact on him than the elation he felt at Obama’s 2008 victory ... But his game plan could provide essential guidance for an army of Democratic social media warriors who can still post online and work the phones from home.
PositiveThe Washington PostIn Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity, Bunker offers ample evidence to illustrate how Franklin developed ingenuity and how it influenced the rest of his life ... Despite a heavy emphasis on Franklin’s family, friends and acquaintances, Bunker covers all the important events of his early life ... Bunker offers newly discovered information about Franklin’s friends and family and vivid descriptions of the political and cultural atmosphere Franklin knew in London and Philadelphia. At times the research can be overwhelming, and Franklin’s story gets a bit lost in the details about what can seem like every person he knew in his first 40 years. But these little-known people do offer an interesting cast of characters ... Anyone interested in Franklin and early America should find this book fascinating. It offers important insight into the internal struggles Franklin wrestled with as a youth and the questions he strove to answer.