Easton, Nina J(ane) 1958-
EASTON, Nina J(ane) 1958-
PERSONAL: Born October 27, 1958, in Concord, MA; daughter of James Kestner and Janet (Grant) Easton; married Ronald Jay Brownstein, May 27, 1983; children: Taylor David, Daniel James. Education: Received degree from University of California, Berkeley, 1981.
ADDRESSES: Office—Boston Globe, P.O. Box 55819, Boston, MA 02205-5819.
CAREER: Journalist and author. Center for Study of Responsive Law, Washington, DC, staff writer, 1981-82; Legal Times, Washington, DC, staff writer, 1983; American Banker, Washington, DC, staff writer, 1985-87; L.A. Times Sunday Magazine, Los Angeles, staff writer, c. 1988-98; Boston Globe, Boston, MA, senior assistant national editor of Washington Bureau. British-American Project, member of executive committee, 1994-97, and co-chair, 1995.
AWARDS, HONORS: Los Angeles Press Club award, 1991; National Headlines award, 1994.
Reagan's Squeeze on Small Business: How the Administration Plan Will Increase Economic Concentration, Presidential Accountability Group (Washington, DC), 1981.
(With Ronald Brownstein) Reagan's Ruling Class: Portraits of the President's Top 100 Officials, introduction by Ralph Nader, Presidential Accountability Group (Washington, DC), 1982.
Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Crusade, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
(With Michael Kranish and Brian C. Mooney) John F. Kerry, The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best, Public Affairs (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: A journalist since the early 1980s, Nina J. Easton has written several books about politics and political leaders. Her first two books focus on the administration of former President Ronald Reagan: 1981's Reagan's Squeeze on Small Business: How the Administration Plan Will Increase Economic Concentration and 1982's Reagan's Ruling Class: Portraits of the President's Top 100 Officials, the latter which she wrote with Ronald Brownstein. Her book Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Crusade was published in 2000 and looks at five baby-boomer conservatives—Bill Kristol, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist, David McIntosh, and Clint Bullock—who helped shape the rising conservative movement in the United States through the 1980s and 1990s. In her profiles of these activist conservatives, Easton discusses how they formed their conservative beliefs and how their actions helped bolster the conservative movement to the forefront of the political scene. She also details the quarrels, disagreements, and philosophical differences that existed among the individuals she profiles, such as the importance of emphasizing family values within the conservative movement.
"Since the title evokes Chinese radicals convicted for the repressive policies of the Cultural Revolution, the reader might suspect that the profiles are not especially flattering," wrote Jill Ortner in a review of Gang of Five in Library Journal. "Nevertheless, the author manages to capture the intriguing conflicts and complexities of her subjects' ideologies and provides balanced assessments of their leadership in and out of government." Jacob Heilbrum, writing in Washington Monthly, similarly noted that even though Easton's own politics seem to differ greatly from the conservatives she is writing about, she "approaches them in a sympathetic spirit of inquiry rather than condemnation." Heilbrum also commented, "The pace … never drags: Easton unites perceptive analysis with a lively prose style." Calling the five conservatives "fascinating subjects," Steven Kelman wrote in the New Leader that Gang of Five "effectively illuminates the tensions in the conservative movement between traditionalists … and libertarians." Kelman also added that the book "is not only a good read; it is a discriminating mirror."
Easton collaborated with colleagues Michael Kranish and Brian C. Mooney on John F. Kerry, The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best. The book describes the family, life, and career of the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, from his grandfather who landed at Ellis Island in New York in 1905 to the candidate's tour of duty in Viet Nam and the political career that led him to run for U.S. president. According to critics, the most surprising revelation in the book is that, contrary to popular belief, Kerry has no real claim to being a Boston Irishman at all. Rather, his grandfather was a Jewish refugee from the Austro-Hungarian Empire who left his Jewish faith behind as he and his wife started a new life in America. In the book, readers learn more about Kerry's heroic service in Viet Nam, his role as an activist against the war after he completed his service, and his renown as an accomplished Massachusetts trial lawyer while serving in the Middlesex County district attorney's office. The authors also provide details about Kerry's various campaigns and a close look at his record as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts. In addition, the book discusses such personal issues as the annulment of Kerry's marriage to his first wife and his second marriage to billionaire Theresa Heinz.
Writing in the Spectator, Anthony Howard commended the authors for not churning out a predictable "campaign biography," noting that "it should be said straight away that this book, with the slightly teasing adjective in its subtitle, is no way representative of that genre. Far from being a dazzling encomium of the qualities of the Democratic candidate … it offers a cool (and at times almost chilling) assessment of the various episodes that have gone into the making of the career of the present junior senator from Massachusetts." As David Mark commented in Campaigns & Elections, "Voters seeking comprehensive information about the life of the presumptive Democratic nominee must read [this book]." A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that John F. Kerry is "written in the lucid, straightforward prose one expects from a newspaper writing team."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Easton, Nina J., Michael Kranish, and Brian C. Mooney, John F. Kerry, The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best, Public Affairs (New York, NY), 2004.
Boston Globe, July 25, 2004, Harris Collingwood, review of John F. Kerry, The Complete Biography by the Boston Globe Reporters Who Know Him Best, p. E6.
Campaigns & Elections, September, 2000, review of Gang of Five: Leaders at the Center of the Conservative Crusade, p. 18; May, 2004, David Mark, review of John F. Kerry, p. 49.
Library Journal, September 1, 2000, Jill Ortner, review of Gang of Five, p. 231.
New Leader, September, 2000, Steven Kelman, review of Gang of Five, p. 34.
New York Times Book Review, August 15, 2004, Christopher Hitchens, review of John F. Kerry, p. 11.
Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2000, review of Gang of Five, p. 186; April 19, 2004, review of John F. Kerry, p. 58.
Spectator, June 5, 2004, Anthony Howard, review of John F. Kerry, p. 43.
Washington Monthly, September, 2000, Jacob Heilbrum, review of Gang of Five, p. 42.*