Cleareyed and courageously revealing.

TOMLINSON HILL

THE REMARKABLE STORY OF TWO FAMILIES WHO SHARE THE TOMLINSON NAME - ONE WHITE, ONE BLACK

A foreign correspondent examines the intertwining histories of two Tomlinson families—one white, the other black—who shared a common past spent on a Texas slave plantation.

After spending more than a decade covering wars in Africa, Iraq and Afghanistan, Texas native Tomlinson returned to the United States with his consciousness of man’s inhumanity to man permanently raised. Determined to expose the way his family past was implicated in the problematic history of racial relations in America, Tomlinson began by probing an alleged connection to former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson. The author learned that both he and LaDainian had descended from families that had lived on a plantation called Tomlinson Hill. Scouring family papers, archival documents, area history books and the Internet, Tomlinson pieced together the stories of the two families. Starting in the years preceding the Civil War, his ancestors established Tomlinson Hill and began keeping slaves who would eventually take the family name. Later mythologies about the South would transform all slave owners, including the Tomlinsons, into symbols of graciousness and gentility. At the same time, they erased one essential truth: that violence and injustice toward blacks was a fact of life on all plantations. This attitude persisted into the 20th century, becoming embedded in the ideology of the Ku Klux Klan, which claimed to celebrate the “heroic” values of the Old South and managed to draw members of Tomlinson’s own family into the Klan’s ranks during the 1920s. Even after the civil rights movement, the supposedly enlightened teachers in the Dallas county schools Tomlinson attended “walked a careful line in teaching about race, holding no one responsible for the sins of the past.” The author offers not only a detailed history of two families brought together by circumstances greater than themselves; he also opens an honest conversation necessary to begin healing the centuries-old racial rifts that have marred American history.

Cleareyed and courageously revealing.

Pub Date: July 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-00547-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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 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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