Fans of Teddy the outdoor enthusiast will appreciate Gessner’s account.

LEAVE IT AS IT IS

A JOURNEY THROUGH THEODORE ROOSEVELT'S AMERICAN WILDERNESS

An admiring study of Theodore Roosevelt and his attachment to the natural world.

“All you have to do is go back and read the man’s sentences,” writes environmental-literature writer and professor Gessner. “Not the jingoistic, chest-beating, America-first rants or the bloody descriptions of killing things. But the words in between.” Though often given to sentences that have a faux Hemingway swagger to them, Gessner proves the point by examining Roosevelt’s evolving appreciation of nature and his recognition that other orders of existence besides the human had claims to the world. Some of that appreciation came through the tutelage of early nature writers and explorers such as John Burroughs and John Muir. Much, though, was born of Roosevelt’s dedication to improving his already capacious mind but once feeble body by scaling the rocks of Yosemite, hiking into the Grand Canyon, and other tests. Roosevelt repaid the favor by placing great tracts of public domain land in service as wildlife sanctuaries, national parks, and the like. Gessner mixes solid research with on-the-ground explorations that sometimes get a little goofy, as when, on a trip to Yosemite of his own, he allows his accompanying nephew a “small, safe, legal, uncle-supervised” nibble on a marijuana cookie. His travels often lead, though, to contested places such as the embattled Bears Ears National Monument, for which he mounts an eloquent appeal to return land that the Trump administration has delisted to the public domain. Gessner sometimes wanders down paths of speculation that don’t lead anywhere fruitful (“What would he make of the warming climate and dying species and what we have done with the wilderness he left us?”), and he doesn’t break much new ground. Still, it’s useful to be reminded of a president who appreciates the natural world and puts government to work doing good things.

Fans of Teddy the outdoor enthusiast will appreciate Gessner’s account. (maps and photos)

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-0504-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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