Kirstin Downey

Kirstin Downey,  a local girl who went to Kailua High School and then Penn State University, is the Washington DC correspondent for Civil Beat, where she covers the federal government and how it affects Hawaii. A long-time reporter for the Washington Post, where she was a winner of a shared Pulitzer Prize for the Post’s coverage of the Virginia Tech shootings, she is also the author of two books: “The Woman Behind the New Deal,” a biography of Frances Perkins, the architect of the New Deal, and “Isabella the Warrior Queen,” a biography of the queen who sponsored Christopher Columbus. Both books were finalists for the Los Angeles Times award for best biography of the year.

Isabella: The Warrior Queen

“[An] immensely provocative figure . . . [who] successfully maneuvered in an almost exclusively male world of politics.” —Kathryn Harrison, The New York Times Book Review

“In a fascinating revisionist portrait, Downey sketches a monarch both adored and demonized, and makes the case that Isabella laid the foundation for the first global superpower.” —

“Kirstin Downey triumphantly restores Isabella to her rightful place in history. This is an engrossing new portrait of one of the most fascinating and controversial women who ever lived.” —Amanda Foreman, author of the New York Times bestseller Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

“Queen Isabella was the most important woman in the history of Europe, and more than any person of her era she set the stage for modern Europe and America. Using Muslim, Jewish, and Christian sources, Kirstin Downey's gripping biography reveals how Isabella acquired such importance and vividly narrates the incredible drama of her life.”—Jack Weatherford, author of the New York Times bestseller Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

The Woman Behind the New Deal: The Life and Legacy of Frances Perkins, Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, and the Minimum Wage

“The New Deal was a big deal for America — and, as Kirstin Downey shows in this illuminating and sparkling book, Frances Perkins, my predecessor as Labor Secretary, was the moving force behind much of it. Her legacy included Social Security, unemployment insurance, and other initiatives that have improved the lives of generations of Americans. With wit and insight, Downey recounts the accomplishments of this singular woman and invites us to celebrate her life.” 
—Robert B. Reich, Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and former U.S. Secretary of Labor
“Reading the biography of FDR’s Labor Secretary Frances Perkins brings to mind the old saying about how Ginger Rogers had to do everything Fred Astaire did, except backward and in high heels. Perkins, the first female Cabinet member, not only had to do more than her male counterparts to prove herself. . . .  Perkins would have notched a place in history simply by taking the job. But she earned it through a jaw-dropping number of accomplishments. Perkins took a major role in shepherding through Social Security, unemployment insurance, child labor laws and the minimum wage.”
—Michael Hill, Associated Press