Overly sentimental but a great story nevertheless.

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A DOG'S GIFT

THE INSPIRATIONAL STORY OF VETERANS AND CHILDREN HEALED BY MAN'S BEST FRIEND

As a “streetwise crime reporter [and] hard-bitten war correspondent,” Men’s Health contributing editor Drury considered himself a “tough guy”—until he decided to write about the nonprofit paws4people, which trains therapy dogs to work with veterans suffering from PTSD.

The organization—which now includes offshoots paws4vets, paws4prisons, and paws4reading—began 14 years ago when Terry Henry, who was trying to cope with the aftermath of field experiences as a counterintelligence officer, accompanied his daughter Kyria and their dog to nursing homes to cheer up elderly shut-ins. Their visits soon branched out to special education classes in their local schools. Over time, they broadened the scope of their activities to include breeding and training services. Henry was so uplifted by the experience, the author writes, that “he threw himself into the cause of healing others through the power of dogs”—and in the process, he healed himself. He and Kyria have placed dogs in the homes of more than 400 children and veterans with physical and mental disabilities, at no charge. In 2010, they were approved by the Department of Defense to run a pilot program to train service dogs to assist veterans on a long-term basis. They solicit contributions to support their operation, which costs approximately $35,000 per dog, and they rely on recruitment of prison inmates as volunteer trainers (as an accredited part of inmate vocational training). Drury traveled with Henry and observed life-changing moments not only for the new dog owners, but also for prisoners whose lives were transformed by becoming trainers. He also chronicles painful occasions when Henry was forced to exclude an unsuitable trainer from the program or eliminate a veteran incapable of forming a relationship to a dog. Even this formerly hard-bitten reporter notes how he teared up on occasion.

Overly sentimental but a great story nevertheless.

Pub Date: May 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62336-101-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Rodale

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...

MASTERY

Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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