An uneven biography that should still find an audience with budding journalists and those interested in a significant period...




An account of the adventurous life of Alicia Patterson (1906-1963), founder and editor of Newsday.

Before screenwriter Alice Arlen died earlier this year, she teamed with her husband, former New Yorker staff writer and TV critic Michael Arlen (Say Goodbye to Sam, 1984, etc.), to document the life and premature passing of Patterson, Alice’s aunt. Descended from a wealthy, powerful Chicago newspaper family, Patterson could have lived as an idle heiress or a philanthropist or some other choice open only to the very rich. Until age 34, she seemed rather aimless, marrying twice unhappily to men chosen by her imperious father. Eventually, she became an accomplished horsewoman and learned about flying airplanes. Twice divorced, Patterson chose her third husband on her own. Harry Guggenheim had benefitted from a family fortune in the mining business and owned estates on Long Island. Although he attempted to control Alicia, she resisted, and together they purchased a tiny Long Island newspaper. She won editorial if not financial control and slowly built Newsday into a successful general circulation daily. Feeling ignored by her husband and clashing with him about politics (she was more liberal than her generally conservative husband), Patterson developed a deep friendship with Adlai Stevenson, who became the governor of Illinois and then sought the presidency as the Democratic Party candidate in 1952 and 1956. Stevenson fell deeply in love with Patterson, and she loved Stevenson as well, albeit with less ardor. Their off-again, on-again affair defined a large portion of their later lives. Unable to bear children, Patterson's health began to deteriorate during her two final decades. She hoped to outlive Guggenheim and take total control of Newsday, but she died before he did. The authors display impressive research, but the narrative is marred by an unpleasant writing style, at turns cloying, rhetorical, and packed with too many unnecessary compound-complex sentences.

An uneven biography that should still find an audience with budding journalists and those interested in a significant period in the history of print journalism.

Pub Date: Aug. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-87113-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2016

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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