A book that will appeal to readers convinced that Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s email habits are the most pressing concerns...




A conservative polemic against “big government” disguised as a memoir of government service.

After serving in the Secret Service for more than 10 years, Bongino (Life Inside the Bubble: Why a Top Ranked Secret Service Agent Walked Away From It All, 2013) ran for the Senate in Maryland in 2011 and for Congress in 2014, both times unsuccessfully. As he writes, he “had resigned from the agency…to run in a deep blue state, as a Republican, against the sitting President’s policies.” The connotation is that Bongino’s inside-the-Beltway position revealed many disturbing secrets about policymaking and political access. Yet his discussion of his Secret Service career is mainly anecdotal, interspersed with assertions about his peers’ unparalleled abilities and teamwork. Otherwise, Bongino holds the federal government in contempt, particularly his former commander in chief: “President Obama and his hard-left allies will never understand ‘the code’ [of the Secret Service] because they will never understand ‘the team.’ ” This disdain for Obama drives much of the narrative. The author’s tactic is to introduce a particular buzzworthy scandal—e.g., the IRS’s targeting of conservative nonprofits, the purported Benghazi cover-up, the prisoner swap involving Bowe Bergdahl—and then follow up with overlong paragraphs that don’t move beyond insinuation. He thus insists these matters reveal “an administration where the sheer number of government scandals and abuses of power overwhelmed the institutional defense mechanisms.” In late chapters, Bongino focuses on perceived flaws of American electoral politics, with broad-canvas topics like “Why Blue States Matter.” His writing becomes more thoughtful when he looks past his obsession with Obama’s “collectivism,” but it remains studded with platitudes—e.g., “Americans never surrendered their homes and fortunes to the whims and wants of either bandits or bureaucrats.” Even the author’s more interesting political observations and anecdotes, such as advising conservatives to emulate progressive groups’ tactics while ignoring their messages, underline his fundamental cynicism.

A book that will appeal to readers convinced that Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s email habits are the most pressing concerns Americans now face.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-08298-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

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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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