A colorfully written tribute to the idea and reality of one of society’s keystones.

THE DAILY MIRACLE

A MEMOIR OF NEWSPAPERING

A memoir provides a special seat at events over the last 50 years, a celebration of print journalism, and a lament for its sad state today.

Fresh out of the Air Force, Smith decided that he would like to be a journalist—in fact, a journalist at the New York Times. The paper gently disabused him of that naïve idea, but he did wind up across the Hudson River with the Jersey Journal in Jersey City. From there, he went to the Providence Journal and finally wound up at the famous Sun paper in Baltimore, learning the ink-stained trade during his years on the job and writing everything from obituaries to feature stories to exposés. He had hardly hung his coat up at the Jersey Journal when news of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination came clacking over the teletype. His new assignment: hitting the streets to get people’s reactions. After all, this was a local paper, not the Times. His career encompassed Vietnam, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty—the common view being that poverty won—Watergate, and much more, right up through Donald Trump’s election to the presidency. Smith clearly loves what he spent a half-century doing. And he can poke fun at his young self. Asked by the editor of “da Joisey” why he thought he could do newspaper work, he answered: “I’m pretty sure I could string a few sentences together.” Readers will wonder why he wasn’t blackballed then and there. But he hunkered down, and the audience gets poignant stories, such as his interview with the mother of the first young man from Attleboro, Massachusetts, to be killed in the Vietnam War. The author’s years at the Providence Journal give readers a very vivid and often murderous cast of characters, Rhode Island being known for the mob and corrupt politics. The introduction to the book is a heartfelt paean to the idea and importance of the daily paper—a mash note, really. And the final chapters revisit the three papers today, when even the Baltimore Sun is a shadow of its former self. But what a grand ride it was.

A colorfully written tribute to the idea and reality of one of society’s keystones. (acknowledgements)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64633-056-0

Page Count: 231

Publisher: Otter Bay

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2020

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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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