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Rolling Pennies in the Dark: A Memoir with a Message Paperback – November 13, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"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) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Douglas MacKinnon served in the White House as a writer for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and afterwards in a joint command at the Pentagon, where he had a top secret government clearance. He is a regular contributor to several major newspapers. To date, he has published more than 600 columns in every major paper in the country—including Investor’s Business Daily, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA TODAY, Chicago Tribune, The Houston Chronicle, The Baltimore Sun, and The Washington Examiner—and makes frequent appearances on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. He is the author of a memoir, Rolling Pennies in the Dark.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 145160789X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451607895
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,062,780 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on March 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By mom2boys on 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.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By pjl on March 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeff K on March 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Me on April 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By B-Macker on March 18, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My concern for MacKinnon's Rolling Pennies in the Dark is that his powerful story will get lost because those who disagree with his resulting viewpoint will review it negatively...for primarily superficial reasons.

But first things first. As others have noted, the first half of the book covers Mr. MacKinnon's childhood -- though "childhood" is not an appropriate word because he never had the nurturing environment that allows one the freedom to indulge in being a child. For him, poverty was the consequence of a deeper, more challenging problem -- the dysfunction caused by his messed-up parents. The collection of memories he recounts are the most powerful aspect of the book, and I don't want to spoil your experience by relaying any of them. For me, it would have been worth it just to read this first half of his story.

I did have a few disappointments or lingering questions. Despite the hell of his early years, Mr. MacKinnon did not consider morality a luxury he couldn't afford. To the contrary, he developed a strong faith in God. It fascinates me when someone experiences great pain but does not reject God because of it. I have my own perspective about that, but I wanted to hear more about his. Second, one might reasonably expect that someone who experienced what Mr. MacKinnon experienced would be more naturally drawn to the left side of the political spectrum, especially given that his much-loved grandparents and others of his extended family were strong supporters of the Kennedys. I would like to have heard more about how he got from that starting place to the unflinching strong (and controversial) viewpoints that resulted from his experience and which are shared at the end of the book.
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