John Hanlon

One of the highlights of the book is reading about MacKinnon—who grew up with two deeply-flawed parents in tough Massachusetts neighborhoods—meeting up with these icons. His anecdote about meeting John F. Kennedy Jr. is wonderful as are the stories he tells about his experiences working with Senator Dole on creating the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC. There, he found how generous some celebrities could be in memorializing our nation’s war heroes.

Although many Hollywood studios rejected the idea of giving money to the memorial (partially because its chairman was a Republican), both Tom Hanks and director Steven Spielberg raised funding for the project. In an undistinguished crowd, Hanks and Spielberg distinguished themselves for their support of the project. Spielberg alone donated six hundred and fifteen thousand dollars for the memorial’s groundbreaking ceremony. As MacKinnon writes, “With one incredibly generous donation, Steven Spielberg helped to erase the pettiness and partisanship of a number of his Hollywood colleagues.”

This uplifting biography comes equipped with life lessons at the end attained from MacKinnon’s life growing up in a difficult world of violence and despair. “Poverty truly is not—and cannot be—a partisan issue,” he writes, later adding that it’s crucial for those who live in poverty to “understand that hard work and personal responsibility are the keys to escape the shackles.”

MacKinnon was a victim of those shackes for a long time and one hopes that his story will help many others escape from their own shackles as well.

John Hanlon

John Hanlon writes movie reviews and about pop culture for our site. He can be found on Twitter @johnhanlon.