Accomplished and comprehensive but overly long. John Keegan covered most of the bases in his 200-page Winston Churchill...

WARLORD

A LIFE OF WINSTON CHURCHILL AT WAR, 1874-1945

A sprawling study of the lord of Overlord—and Gallipoli and many other imperial campaigns.

“War, disguise it as you may, is but a dirty, shoddy business, which only a fool would play at,” wrote Winston Churchill after the Battle of Omdurman, when British forces defeated an Islamist army still revered by the militant faithful. It was an ugly battle, but it would not be the ugliest Churchill witnessed. Military historian and former officer D’Este (Eisenhower: A Soldier’s Life, 2002, etc.) finds in the half-American British leader a profound attachment to all things martial—as a child, he writes, Churchill had a vast collection of toy soldiers and a keen sense of how to deploy them—but also a wariness of those who reveled too greatly in martial glories. As a young man, having “stumbled into adulthood from a stormy and rebellious childhood,” Churchill felt he was an avatar of an ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough, born for war and equipped to understand its every aspect as both scholar and practitioner. He fought on horseback in the Sudan, Egypt, India and South Africa before ascending, perhaps improbably, to the Admiralty. There he committed well-known tactical errors in planning the campaign at Gallipoli, and effectively punished himself by resigning to serve as an officer on the Western Front. In the years after World War I he emerged as a skillful military thinker determined not to repeat the largely political errors he had made, even though, during that time, he slashed the army budget, “unusual behavior indeed for a man who had played such an important role in the defense of Britain.” Churchill did, however, advocate rearmament just in time for Hitler’s rise and skillfully managed his share in the alliance that defeated him, even if voters sick of war turned him out of office as prime minister as soon as the conflict ended.

Accomplished and comprehensive but overly long. John Keegan covered most of the bases in his 200-page Winston Churchill (2002), which nonspecialist readers will prefer.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-06-057573-1

Page Count: 784

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2008

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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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