Featuring the use of new archives, a highly regarded historian offers a significant reappraisal.

DOUGLAS MACARTHUR

AMERICAN WARRIOR

A freshly critical life of the great American general, whose “spectacular successes were always haunted by his equally spectacular failures.”

Like Napoleon, Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) still inspires countless biographies, so it’s hard to say why we need another after excellent works by William Manchester, Geoffrey Perret, and Mark Perry—except perhaps to set the record straight. Accomplished historian and Hudson Institute senior fellow Herman (The Cave and the Light: Plato Versus Aristotle, and the Struggle for the Soul of Western Civilization, 2013, etc.) sets out to do just that, arguing that MacArthur, like Napoleon, was an original, and though he was deemed arrogant, vain, and imperious, he had “an epic breadth” to his military career like no other. Moreover, though President Harry Truman dismissed him for insubordination over his criticism of policy in the Korean War, the general was carrying out that policy while publicly (and rightly) questioning the efficacy of America’s strategy there. Herman asserts that in order to get past MacArthur the legend, readers must delve into three important aspects of his life: his relationship with his father, Arthur MacArthur, the Mexican War hero and military governor of the Philippines, whose standards of duty and excellence the son emulated his whole life; his tie to his strong-willed, adoring mother, who helped shape his early goals starting at West Point and informed his other relationships with women; and his skill as a military strategist, displayed first under Gen. John Pershing’s command in France during World War I, then in the Philippines and Pacific theater in World War II, and finally at Inchon, South Korea. Herman underscores the general’s key role in bolstering the interwar American military and later advocating relentlessly to build up the Philippines army, despite apathy from Washington. Fatal blunders at Bataan and the Yalu River, among others, should not overshadow the general’s far-sightedness in envisioning the early rise of the Pacific Rim.

Featuring the use of new archives, a highly regarded historian offers a significant reappraisal.

Pub Date: June 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9488-9

Page Count: 960

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: April 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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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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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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