An uplifting and reassuring work testifying to the deep restorative and spiritual—though not necessarily religious—nature of...

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DEATH IS BUT A DREAM

FINDING HOPE AND MEANING AT LIFE'S END

A hospice doctor with an “aversion to the supernatural” examines the experiences of patients’ end-of-life dreams and visions and proposes that they have profound meaning and impact.

Intrigued by his patients’ nearly ubiquitous reports of healing, restorative, and closure-providing visions in the days and hours before death, Kerr, the chief medical officer for the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care in Buffalo, embarked on a long-term study of these experiences, and he recounts many of them in this sympathetic and intriguing book. Readers looking for evidence of an afterlife, an eternal soul, or insight into what happens to us after death will not find it here. Instead, as the author takes pains to illustrate, it is what transpires just before death that proves to be profound and meaningful for patients and their loved ones. “These experiences simply give each patient what they need the most,” Kerr writes about the dreams that are more vivid and real than any that have come before and usually boil down to feelings of genuine love: the love of a deceased dog acting as a guide into death for a dying child; the sight of a mother’s arms reaching out from above an elderly woman’s bed; dreams that allow a widow to relive quiet, happy moments doing crosswords with her deceased spouse. Even distressing dreams serve to work out and heal old wounds and bring peace in the final hours. While Kerr’s exclusive focus on patients’ words and experiences—rather than those of caregivers or researchers with their occasionally detached perspectives and potential agendas—is admirable, the presentation of one case study after another, with each patient’s introduction, backstory, and experiences, becomes a little tedious, and some amount of contextualizing data or further description of research findings would have been welcome. (Readers can find some of this information in the author’s TEDx talk along with video footage of selected patients; watching makes a nice companion to the book.)

An uplifting and reassuring work testifying to the deep restorative and spiritual—though not necessarily religious—nature of pre-death visions.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-54284-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Avery

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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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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