A vivid portrait of resistance in dark, perilous times that is not without contemporary relevance.



A history of the Italian family who mounted an intrepid campaign against Mussolini.

After World War I, fascism took hold in war-torn Italy, culminating in the rise of 39-year-old Mussolini as the nation’s youngest prime minister. In 1922, supported by the royal family, the Vatican, and about 25,000 well-trained Blackshirts, Mussolini, demanding “full powers” to lead, faced weak opposition by socialists, communists, and liberals. In an absorbing, well-documented narrative, historian Moorehead (Village of Secrets: Defying the Nazis in Vichy France, 2014, etc.) focuses on the Rosselli family—brothers Carlo and Nello and their mother, Amelia—who became tireless leaders of an anti-fascist movement that grew in strength as Mussolini’s reign of terror intensified. “Fascism,” writes the author, “quickly spread its tentacles over the fabric of Italian life. The army, the aristocracy, the Church and industry, all were rallying to defend the rights of a usurper.” Drawing on thousands of family letters as well as biographies of Mussolini and histories of the period, Moorehead powerfully depicts the family’s anger and despair as Italy succumbed to what Carlo called “an enormous black plague.” Although at first some anti-fascists hoped that Mussolini, who was “boastful, vain, cruel and erratic,” would fail on his own, it soon became clear that they needed to wage a real battle. By 1927, Mussolini had abolished elections and installed himself as minister “of foreign affairs, of the interior, of war, of the navy and air force, and of corporations.” Textbooks were rewritten and journalists fired if they showed “aversion” to fascism. Anti-fascists grew stronger, with Carlo standing as “the most prominent leader of the non-communist anti-fascist opposition.” The author chronicles the efforts by Carlo and Nello that led to repeated arrests and incarcerations on Italy’s prison islands. When he was released, Carlo took up a frantic pace of writing and speeches, traveling to Paris, London, and, during the Spanish Civil War, Spain. Constantly in Mussolini’s cross hairs, the brothers finally were assassinated: 200,000 people followed their funeral procession.

A vivid portrait of resistance in dark, perilous times that is not without contemporary relevance.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-230830-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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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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