FLYING INTO HISTORY

MEET THE HEROES OF AIR FORCE CLASS 55N (VOLUME 1)

The first volume in a series of collected biographies of an Air Force class.
With this military-history book, Pierson (The Daring Adventures of a U.S. Air Force Pilot, 2013) and Parker present the initial installment in a project to showcase the lives of more than 300 members of U.S. Air Force Pilot Training Class 55N. This volume offers the stories of 14 of those officers, who completed their training in 1955. Although the classmates shared a common starting point, they followed many different career paths, both during their time in the Air Force and in their post-military careers. Most flew combat missions in Vietnam, and some were killed in action there. Several continued flying after they retired from the service, and a few moved to other sectors, such as the U.S. Coast Guard. Numerous illustrations enhance the biographies, including images of aircraft, and subjects’ personal photographs particularly bring the stories to life. Although most of these sketches don’t include heroic feats or high-stakes missions, Pierson’s and Parker’s enthusiasm for their subjects allows them to show the drama and purpose of each person’s experience. Each biography is a discrete story, however, and as a result, the book has a noticeable amount of repetition, including names of aircraft models, lists of decorations and the fact that each cadet received a staff sergeant’s pay (which appears in nearly every profile). The prose isn’t always polished (“The United States used the nuclear threat to win the Crisis, as the PRC had yet to gain nuclear power. Eisenhower used the tactic of ‘Brinkmanship’ to ensure victory”), but the authors’ thorough research is evident on every page. Although this book is unlikely to have broad commercial appeal, it does make a valuable contribution to the historical record and serves as a well-illustrated resource for readers with a particular interest in Class 55N.

A comprehensive set of biographies that closely focuses on a group of Air Force veterans.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1502392381

Page Count: 212

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2014

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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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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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