A fine investigation of a legal injustice and the cultural upheaval that conjured it.

How The English Establishment Framed STEPHEN WARD

Modern Britain’s splashiest sex-and-politics scandal led to the persecution of an innocent—or at least not especially guilty—man according to this yeasty exposé of the Profumo Affair, reissued for the 50th anniversary of the debacle.

When it came to light in 1963, the affair between British defense secretary John Profumo and party girl and sometime prostitute Christine Keeler sparked concerns that Keeler could have passed military secrets from Profumo to Yevgeny Ivanov, a Soviet diplomat and spy who was said to be her lover. Investigative journalists Knightley (The First Casualty, 2004, etc.) and Kennedy discount the espionage angle—Keeler, they argue, was a naïf with no head for worming intelligence out of people and probably had never slept with Ivanov—and instead treat the ruckus as a stew of lust, greed, Cold War fears, political vendettas and moral panic. At the center of the story is Stephen Ward, a London osteopath and artist who died of a drug overdose after he was put on trial for pimping Keeler and other women, charges that the authors dismantle in a meticulous recap of the courtroom drama. A friend of everyone who was anyone in Britain—patients and pals included Elizabeth Taylor and Prince Philip—Ward is a fascinating figure in the book. He was a bohemian and roué and, the authors demonstrate, indeed a spy for Britain’s MI5 intelligence agency; but he was also a kind, sincere soul undone by upper crust scheming and hypocrisy. Originally published under the title An Affair of State (1987), the book recounts facts that may be mostly old news to students of the Profumo Affair, but it’s still a well-paced, engrossing narrative of the scandal and its political and other tendrils; it’s replete with vivid sketches of the participants and their antics, including many kinky toffs. (Sample date night: “She used to tie me to a chair in my leather suit, whip me and then make me watch while she screwed someone in front of me.”) More than that, it’s a revealing portrait of the dawn of swinging London, obsessed with new sexual freedoms—and anxieties that needed a scapegoat.

A fine investigation of a legal injustice and the cultural upheaval that conjured it.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1490939896

Page Count: 362

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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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 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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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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