An arresting and unusual portal into the mind of a fighter in the Nazi forces.

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Memories from a War

A STOLEN YOUTH

A debut memoir chronicles a German soldier’s travails during World War II.

Recollections of World War II are usually told from the side of the victors, often Americans detailing their heroic triumph over a barbaric adversary. Pappert, however, served in the German Wehrmacht and fought against the Allied forces, an experience that provided him with a unique vantage point from which to parse the violence and chaos. The author’s father was a staunch and prominent Christian as well as a principled critic of Nazi tyranny. As a result, Pappert’s eyes were opened wide to the depths of Hitler’s depravity, and he found solace in a faith outlawed by Nazi ideology. In 1942, the author was compelled to join the RAD, essentially a national labor service, as a prelude to his induction into the military at the young age of 18. After working as a “war reporter,” a job that relieved him of more tedious manual labor, Pappert was eventually sent to France, Clermont-Ferrand in particular, and was hypnotized by the beauty of the country, including the magnificence of Paris. (The book is translated from French into English.) He lived in constant peril—one day he was shot in the neck from a sniper in a tower, though thankfully the wound turned out to be a minor one. Later, he was nearly killed by grapes poisoned by the French Resistance. The author also constantly feared the Gestapo, who zealously scrutinized even its most decorated soldiers. In a stroke of luck, he was chosen to decamp for Italy rather than the much more dangerous Eastern front, though he knew this only delayed a terrifying encounter with the much more powerful American military. Pappert’s prose is by turns charmingly humble and affecting. He was riven with internal conflict—a devoted Roman Catholic who despised the Nazis, he still considered it wrong to show disloyalty to his own nation at war. At one point, he was given the chance to flee and join the French Resistance, and he demurred: “I am a German soldier and while I detest the Nazis that does not mean that I would betray my country. Even if I did, the Resistance would always look at me askance, a deserter who cannot be trusted. I cannot accept your proposal.” The first of two volumes, this is a beautifully crafted remembrance that depicts an underrepresented perspective.

An arresting and unusual portal into the mind of a fighter in the Nazi forces.

Pub Date: May 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5328-6144-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: WAMFAM Press

Review Posted Online: July 19, 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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UNTAMED

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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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