Sound, sturdy, masterfully done.




A staggering work of biography and social history, documenting in exquisite detail the “astonishing life” of the four-term president and world leader.

For Black, the chairman of Hollinger International—publisher of the Chicago Sun-Times, Jerusalem Post, (London) Sunday Telegraph, and many other publications—“astonishing” may even be an understatement, for it is clear throughout that he regards FDR as something rather more than mere mortal, if surely less than saint. Black’s nuanced discussion of Roosevelt’s political missteps in the 1932 presidential campaign, when newsman Walter Lippmann characterized FDR as “a pleasant man who without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President,” speaks well to the author’s sense of balance: Black takes pains to note how FDR waffled on whether the US should back the League of Nations or join the World Court—whether, in short, it should be internationalist or isolationist. Some of that waffling, it appears, was meant to bring the anti-internationalist publisher William Randolph Hearst into the Roosevelt camp, for, Black suggests, FDR was nothing if not calculating, and he reckoned that even though Hearst was disreputable, his “comparative goodwill” might help win the Democratic nomination. (It may have, but, Black notes, Eleanor Roosevelt “was so disappointed with her husband that she didn’t speak to him for some time.”) Once in the White House, FDR faced plenty of challenges, not only in combating the Depression and fascism, but also in coordinating a team of advisors and policymakers who did not much like each other and overcoming his own sometimes haphazard approach to governance; on FDR’s death, Henry Stimson remarked that “his administrative procedures [were] disorderly,” but added, “his foreign policy was always founded on great foresight and keenness of vision.” He rose to those challenges well. Black praises FDR for his domestic accomplishments, observing, for instance, that the WPA alone “built, expanded, or renovated 2,500 hospitals, nearly 4,000 schools, 13,000 parks and playgrounds, 78,000 bridges, and 651,000 miles of road” while also striking “a blow against philistinism, which customarily flourishes in times of economic hardship.” Black is even more thorough in his considered praise of FDR as a statesman, especially in the president’s skill in handling allied leaders who had very different ideas of what to do with the world once they removed Hitler and company from the scene.

Sound, sturdy, masterfully done.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-58648-184-3

Page Count: 1360

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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