GRINGO

MY LIFE ON THE EDGE AS AN INTERNATIONAL FUGITIVE

A drug trafficker recounts his life on the lam in this debut memoir.

Growing up in a small South Dakota town where boys “aspired to be Daniel Boone, not Kanye West,” Davis’ life dramatically changed when he left home in 1974 for the bright lights of Las Vegas. As a college student, he started manufacturing “White Crosses” (speed pills) and soon recruited the local Bandidos motorcycle gang to distribute his supply. His decision to enter this volatile, dangerous world ushered in a period of extreme wealth, as he earned close to $200,000 per week selling the drug. But then he was caught by authorities and incarcerated—ironically enough, for selling marijuana, a far less expensive and less lethal substance than speed. He avoided this conviction, however, by jumping bail and slipping over the border into Mexico undetected. During his many years on the run across Central and South America, he found some unusual ways to hide out: with the infamous Colombian Medellín drug cartel, in Panama’s mostly uncharted Darien Gap, and even, briefly, in Fidel Castro’s Cuba. Desperate to stay one step ahead of the American authorities (federales), Davis falsified his identity and moved often from city to city to avoid arousing suspicion: “I was a fugitive with a stolen fake passport….I was trying to con a con,” he writes. This memoir is written with an intense, electrifying energy; for example, when Davis is finally caught by authorities in Venezuela, he says, “I had sworn early on that the only way I would return to America was with pennies on my eyes or in handcuffs.” Co-author Conti (Whatever Happened to Martin Barnett?, 2016, etc.) helps to hold things together in a strong retelling that addresses the many complexities of Davis’ life story. The narrative is propelled by sharp, energizing prose that firmly holds readers’ attention as they’re plunged into the dramatic, unstable Central American drug circuit. For those who are uninitiated into this elusive milieu, the book offers robust context that combines with the larger narrative and truly enriches the story of a life lived on the edge. A fast-paced, thrilling work about navigating the dangerous drug trade.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-938812-84-2

Page Count: -

Publisher: Full Court Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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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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