A book for die-hard Little House fans.

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LIBERTARIANS ON THE PRAIRIE

LAURA INGALLS WILDER, ROSE WILDER LANE, AND THE MAKING OF THE LITTLE HOUSE BOOKS

How a champion of Ayn Rand shaped the Little House series.

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books are a publishing phenomenon, with about 60 million copies sold since their inception in 1932. Journalist and editor Woodside (Energy Independence: Your Everyday Guide to Reducing Fuel Consumption, 2008, etc.) was among many young readers obsessed with the series and its author: “an urge to know the real Laura gripped me,” writes the author, who for 40 years read everything she could find about her. Among those books was William Holtz’s The Ghost in the Little House (1993), a biography of Rose Wilder Lane, Laura’s daughter, which revealed that Rose “was a very important quiet partner” in writing the series, which she informed with her conservative political views. His disclosure met with anger from Laura’s fans, exhibited in such acts as anonymous phone calls berating him for sullying Laura’s reputation. Wilder historian William Anderson published scholarly articles drawing the same conclusion. Woodside has examined family papers that support those findings. Although she elaborates on both points, she does not offer a substantially new view of either woman, and it’s likely that readers are already aware that the books idealized prairie life and the fortitude of the pioneers. Rose was a successful journalist, novelist, and biographer (of Charlie Chaplin, Henry Ford, and Herbert Hoover) by the time she began work on her mother’s story. She had a literary agent and strong publishing connections, but, as Woodside reiterates, although she was well-paid, she was always in debt. The Little House series, she believed, would fill her depleted bank account. The collaboration, however, exacerbated a difficult relationship. As Woodside portrays her, Rose was unhappy, often depressed, and envious of her mother’s increasing fame. The two, though, shared a hatred of Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, looked for ways to avoid paying income taxes, and frequently extolled the virtues of capitalism.

A book for die-hard Little House fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62872-656-5

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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