NELSON

A PERSONAL HISTORY

A lively but incomplete biography of Admiral Nelson that keeps most strategy below decks and instead concentrates on one of the more celebrated adulteries in history. In doing so, the prolific Hibbert (Cavaliers and Roundheads, 1993, etc.) taps a vein of popular curiosity about Nelson, but deals with that part of Nelson's character that is least interesting. For the truth is that Nelson, aside from his profession, was not a very interesting man. Having left school at 12 to become a midshipman in the Navy, he was vain, sanctimonious about his dedication to duty, hypochondriacal, and often querulous about the inadequacy of the rewards that he received. To the dismay of his admirers who thought her a poseur, he was unable to see through Emma Hamilton, the mistress and then wife of Sir William Hamilton, the minister in Naples, who had taken her over from his nephew and in turn, knowingly or otherwise, shared her with Nelson. This mÇnage Ö trois scandalized Europe and leaves historians, including Hibbert, uncertain as to whether Sir William was aware that his wife had given birth to Nelson's child and whether he truly believed his oft-asserted statement of the purity of their relationship. What is really interesting about Nelson, and what historians, including Hibbert, find difficult to communicate, is the fascination that he roused in his peers: ``I don't know that I ever had a conversation that interested me more,'' wrote the very unimpressionable Duke of Wellington after an interview in which he had initially seen Nelson at his vainglorious worst. Hibbert gives us insight into the human touch that made Nelson beloved by his men but little on the strategic grasp that associated him with the four most devastating defeats suffered by the French Navy and its allies in the Napoleonic Wars. It is almost impossible for Hibbert to write a dull sentence- -King Ferdinand of Naples, he writes, was ``a fundamentally idle man much given to fornication''—and he gives a fine sense of Nelson the man. To understand what made Nelson different from his contemporaries, one will have to read elsewhere.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-201-62457-5

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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