Thoughtful, full of righteous indignation—rightly so—and likely to be of great interest to students of the Vietnam War and...

SECRETS

A MEMOIR OF VIETNAM AND THE PENTAGON PAPERS

A well-crafted, windmill-tilting autobiography by the famed cold warrior turned antiwar activist.

A former Marine officer and civilian employee in Vietnam, Ellsberg knew early on that the war would lead to heartache for America; as early as the fall of 1961, he recalls, he believed “that nothing we were trying to do was working or was likely to get better.” Armed with “go-anywhere” clearance and allied with the likes of John Paul Vann (the subject of Neal Sheehan’s A Bright, Shining Lie, 1988), Ellsberg had ample opportunities to prove himself right. What is more, he writes here, just about everyone in the American command knew full well that the Vietnam War was a senseless slaughter, the product of think-tankers’ fond wishes and blind faith in American might and technological prowess; still, the habitually blundering leadership ignored clear signs of disaster, and when it did, Ellsberg writes, “I foresaw very strong tendencies to try to recoup early failures and break out of a stalemate by expanding the war still further.” Determined to bring this folly to a conclusion, Ellsberg, by the late 1960s an analyst for the Rand Corporation, decided to expose more than 7,000 pages of secret material that provided “documentary evidence of lying, by four presidents and their administrations over twenty-three years, to conceal plans and actions of mass murder.” When portions of the so-called Pentagon Papers were released by the New York Times and other publications, he writes, sitting president Richard Nixon at first seemed happy to have support for his don’t-blame-me argument, then worried that secret documents from his own administration would be leaked to the media—which, Ellsberg writes, set in motion the chain of spying that ended in the Watergate affair and Nixon’s resignation. Throughout, Ellsberg is convinced of the justice of his cause—as will be many of his readers, on seeing the evidence amassed here of the criminality of our recent politics.

Thoughtful, full of righteous indignation—rightly so—and likely to be of great interest to students of the Vietnam War and domestic resistance thereto.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2002

ISBN: 0-670-03030-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more