The cry of a wounded creature (“I have a heart easily hurt”) who cannot or will not let the wounds heal. They fuel her...

HEARTBREAK

THE POLITICAL MEMOIR OF A FEMINIST MILITANT

A controversial author (Scapegoat, 2000, etc.) offers her bitter and sad reflections on life as a feminist.

Dworkin lashes right out in her preface: “I have no sense of honor,” she writes, asserting that “triviality and deceit [are] the coin of the female realm.” What follows are vignettes from the life that led her to that view, most of them involving examples of adult deception and coercion. In short, dense chapters, Dworkin reviews her development into a radical feminist crusader against pornography and prostitution. By the sixth grade, she says, she was a rebel, refusing to sing “Silent Night” because it celebrated Christianity and she was Jewish; she characterizes the “pretty, gutless teacher” who tried to convince her to go along as “a female collaborator.” An encounter with a pedophile teacher taught her more about lying. Later, political activism led to jail and to self-imposed exile in Crete, where she taught herself to write. In Amsterdam, a battering husband drove her to prostitution; discovering the works of early second-wave feminists, she vowed to “give my life to the movement.” And she has, although not always in ways that the movement finds agreeable. When Dworkin began to speak about violence and rape, women of all sorts, including third-generation prostitutes, told her their stories of abuse. The issue of pornography collided with the issue of free speech, of course, but Dworkin believes class played a part as well. Maneuvered off the podium at a NOW convention, she comments, “it became a bad feminist habit for the rich to rat out the poor.” She also doesn’t hesitate to characterize President Clinton as an abuser and poet Allen Ginsberg as an avowed pedophile. The last chapter portrays women prostituted and abused as “paying the freight for all the rest.”

The cry of a wounded creature (“I have a heart easily hurt”) who cannot or will not let the wounds heal. They fuel her crusade.

Pub Date: March 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-465-01753-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2001

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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 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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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