Start reading Rolling Pennies in the Dark: A Memoir with a Message on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

Rolling Pennies in the Dark: A Memoir with a Message [Kindle Edition]

Douglas MacKinnon
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $5.00 (31%)
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
This price was set by the publisher

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $10.99  
Hardcover --  
Paperback $12.50  
Duty by Robert M Gates
Memoirs of Robert Gates, American statesman, scholar and university president who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. Learn more | See similar books

Book Description

“Our intoxicated mother had marched the three of us out into what passed for a living room in the cardboard and tarpaper shack we were existing in on the edge of Nowhere, New Hampshire. She assembled us like an audience on the broken yellow sofa, and said, ‘I’m going to kill myself now, and it’s all your father’s fault.’

“After the dramatic announcement, and once sure we were all looking at the tragedy playing out before us, she took a bottle of sleeping pills out of her purse, and swallowed the entire contents, using vodka as the lubricant.” —excerpt from page 44

Through determination, a deep faith in God, and belief in himself, Douglas MacKinnon has taken the pains of his childhood and turned them into the fuel of compassion. Through his words, you can do the same.

 A Memoir with a Message

 It’s impossible for most of us to imagine what it would be like, as a nine-year-old child, to have your own mother empty her .45 pistol into your cardboard bedroom wall, bullets flying above your head, as you hold your baby sister close to protect her. We can’t imagine this, but Doug MacKinnon can. Doug can do more than imagine—he can remember.

This very personal memoir is both heartbreaking and highly inspirational. In it, Douglas MacKinnon weaves his astounding story as a desperately poor child and his triumphant transition from living in abject squalor to becoming a White House writer who now has the political influence to change the system—especially as it affects children.

But this book is more than the story of one man’s personal journey; it is a memoir with a message. Through this message, the author not only inspires readers to move beyond their own difficulties, he also calls both political parties to task for their shameful neglect of tens of millions of Americans. You’ll be riveted to the story, moved to compassion, and inspired to see the world through new eyes.

Editorial Reviews


"This deeply moving and inspirational story is supported by a foundation of faith, compassion, and personal responsibility." (Elizabeth Dole, former cabinet secretary, former president of the American Red Cross, and former United States Senator)

"The male version of The Glass Castle. Harrowing, shocking, and relevant to everyone." (David Langworthy, Editor for Houston Chronicle)

"MacKinnon has walked the walk when called upon and his real-life experience makes for a compelling book that will speak to countless people going through tough times." (Marty Martin, retired senior CIA operations officer)

About the Author

Douglas MacKinnon has written for both the White House and the Pentagon. His articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, USA TODAY, and more.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1267 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 145160789X
  • Publisher: Howard Books (February 28, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IK98DS
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #639,246 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and poignant March 1, 2012
I started and finished this book in one day. From his gripping first sentence to the last, Douglas tells his highly personal story in a way that spurs the reader to want to actually DO something about the "invisible" problem of severe poverty in this country. "Rolling Pennies" is somewhat reminiscent of "Angela's Ashes, " but with more hope and faith and some very interesting personal stories about contemporary political figures. Douglas's recounting of his harrowing poverty-stricken youth was hard to read sometimes because it is so raw, but it's necessary for the "message" of the memoir. His story about his personal meeting with Ronald Reagan brought me to tears; his story about JFK jr. made me laugh out loud--and wish we could have had more time with him before his tragic early death. I highly recommend "Rolling Pennies"--both the book and the author are extraordinary.
Was this review helpful to you?
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Preachy but a very good read March 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is not a typical story of overcoming obstacles and coming out of poverty- it is a very fast read and anyone who had to work for what they have in life will certainly appreciate this book. I commend Douglas MacKinnon for being brutally honest, and applaud him for being proud of his conservative principles. He is not trying to convince anyone that his political belief is the only path- and the chapters about the WWII memorial are a testament to his belief in simply doing what is right. I fear his Part II takes away from the central theme of the story - the bootstrapping narrative- because as he should know from all his years in the political realm, no one likes to be told what they are doing wrong. What he says is true, and important, and as someone who identifies as a liberal, I believe that my opinions on the issues he discusses- affirmative action, welfare- are spot-on the same as his. We have done a great disservice to the young people in this country whose circumstances are not created by themselves by not at least trying to end the cycle of irresponsibility. Hunger and disparity driven by promotion of a mediocre work ethic, and not abortion or being gay, should be what people are talking about in the hundreds of political campaigns being waged this year- not only in the presidential. I wish MacKinnon had gone into greater depth of how he sees the problem being fixed rather then the extended discussion on why the problem has happened. I would certainly read another book of his that delved into this topic.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rolling Pennies in the Dark March 4, 2012
By pjl
Rolling Pennies in the Dark is an eye opening book written from a perspective few will (thankfully) ever know.

From the opening, to the close, readers will find glimpses into worlds of both the powerless and the powerful. The author finds ways to share experiences without exploiting either the tragedies or triumphs.

Get this book and be prepared to be shocked, saddened, cry, smile, laugh and deeply consider life for many in America. The final lessons in the book provide an interesting jumping off point for the beginning of a new dialog about poverty and politics.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad story, compelling read March 25, 2012
By Jeff K
MacKinnon is a fiction-writer and columnist. He's published articles in many of the country's top papers. He worked in Republican administrations, and appears regularly on TV news and commentary shows.

It's so compelling to read about his past, his childhood. MacKinnon has clearly had to overcome so many obstacles, and he narrates them with painstaking detail, including his mother shooting at him and his siblings. It is a story that every young adult and every parent in America should read. It's the story of the American Dream, told through the eyes of a boy growing up in the roughest parts of Boston, who worked his way to the White House and the highest levels of US politics. It was especially touching to read the episode about MacKinnon and President Reagan tearing up in the Oval Office over their similar checkered childhoods.

The memoires' messages are for all: how a person can become successful even if not born to successful, influential or wealthy parents. It's also a book that tells a story about a doer: a man who did not let his circumstances define him, and instead decided to do something for his country, his family and himself.

I very much enjoyed the read, and recommend this book to everyone.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good April 15, 2012
By Me
This book was very well written, but I am sure very hard to write. It is hard to believe it is a true story and the three children came out on top. No gangs, drugs, or jail. Very impressive and encouraging for anyone who might be in a hard situation. Believe in your faith and in yourself. Good message. I also liked how he wrote short chapters. I am sure that is a difficult writing technique or more authors would write like this. I am a very busy mom of 3 who works full time and part time but was able to finish this book quickly. Not only because it was a good book to read, but because of this technique. I was actually able to get to the end of a chapter before I heard "MOM!" This is a good book for all!
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling read April 14, 2012
A story that just shows us all that regardless of the hardships thrown at you, you can not only beat them, you can use them to succeed. Douglas MacKinnon grew up in conditions that most of us could never imagine or would want to. With all that going against him, he was not only able to move beyond the depths of despair he lived in, but become a successful writer, lobbyist, and businessman. As I continued to read the story of his life in Boston, I couldn't stop thinking "how did he do it?" In the end, he answered that question with some simple truths. Courage, strength, and an unwillingness to give into the despair. Mr. MacKinnon shows us that anyone can make it as long as they are not willing to let the negative things in their lives control them. His story is compelling, heartfelt, and encouraging. If you know anyone who is growing up in bad circumstances, get them a copy of this book and let them see for themselves that it is possible to make it against all odds. Inspiring and brilliant, a must read for all.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars hoodwinked
Confounding. I gravitate toward coming of age stories from people of different walks of life. On that mark, this was a very interesting book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Melissa Brendtro
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very nice 5 Stars
Published 14 months ago by Karl L Packer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good true life story
A very good book and depressing look at poverty in our country. It shows that anyone can get out of such a sad life and make something of themselves.
Published 18 months ago by Carolyn Tunnell
3.0 out of 5 stars Rolling Pennies in the Dark
My friend read this and thought it was wonderful. We had both read The Glass Castle, and she said it was a lot like that book. Well, it wasn't. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Mary Clay
5.0 out of 5 stars This book really makes you think about life
Remarkable story of a dysfunctional family with one of three children, Doug, caring and protecting his older brother and younger sister from the chaos of abject poverty. Read more
Published on May 2, 2013 by Lorraine
5.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Story
This is a must-read book for anyone who wants to honestly understand the issue of poverty in this country. Read more
Published on May 1, 2013 by Charlie Hudson
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I really enjoyed this book. It is well written and interesting. I heard the author being interviewed on a radio talk show and became interested in what he had to say. Read more
Published on January 25, 2013 by Grif
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly unforgettable memoir that will forever change your life!
"For me and the millions of people across the planet who had or have it much worse than me, a recurring questions is "What's the point? Read more
Published on November 10, 2012 by Pirate2240
1.0 out of 5 stars Just more right-wingnut diatribe
I find it very interesting that the horrific youth experience can devolve into a bitter non-Christian attitude (WWJD) toward those people whose lives were so characteristic of his... Read more
Published on August 7, 2012 by W. C. Hess
5.0 out of 5 stars Rolling Pennies in the Dark
As a psychiatric nurse clinical specialist I loved this book. So much of our future is cast by our childhood. Read more
Published on July 31, 2012 by Bethella
Search Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.


There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Look for Similar Items by Category