A touch too long but a pleasingly encompassing view of the hapless papal reign that inspired Kertzer’s early book The...

READ REVIEW

THE POPE WHO WOULD BE KING

THE EXILE OF PIUS IX AND THE EMERGENCE OF MODERN EUROPE

A bulky but readable history of the last leader of the Papal States.

Pio Nono, or Pius IX, was one of the architects of the modern Catholic Church, the pontiff who forged the doctrine of papal infallibility while making some decidedly fallible choices on the front of worldly politics. According to Pulitzer Prize winner Kertzer (Social Science/Brown Univ.; The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe, 2014, etc.), the pope had reasonably humane inclinations but not much sense of the power politics of the day. He found himself in an uncomfortable alliance with France while facing off against the nationalist forces that, inspired by Garibaldi’s red shirts, would forge a unified country out of a collection of rival city-states and principalities. One legacy of Pius IX’s time is the tiny enclave of Vatican City, surrounded by an Italy that, nominally Catholic, does not suffer much political interference from it. That tradition reflects on the fraught relationship with Italy’s first king, Victor Emmanuel, who died early in his reign. As Kertzer writes, “the Catholic press made much of this evidence of divine punishment, although it might have made more of it had the elderly Pius IX not died four weeks later.” Though broadly criticized in his time, the pope, a hero of conservatives today, was elevated to sainthood during John Paul’s papacy. The cardinal who guided Pius IX in political matters has not fared so well, Kertzer notes; while attempting to preserve the pope’s 1,000-year-old kingdom, he enriched himself and his family while allegedly maintaining a series of mistresses. In the end, writes the author, the old papacy was a victim of the Enlightenment, which had further implications when the Second Vatican Council removed some of the last of its medieval vestiges.

A touch too long but a pleasingly encompassing view of the hapless papal reign that inspired Kertzer’s early book The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortaro (1997).

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8991-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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?

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

more