Eat your heart out, James Bond.

KICKING ASS AND SAVING SOULS

A TRUE STORY OF A LIFE OVER THE LINE

A rapid-fire biography about the improbable life of humanitarian Stefan Templeton, a “bad guy gone good because he’d never really been that good at being bad.”

Matthews (Ace of Spades: A Memoir, 2008) met Templeton in 1977, when both were the only two mixed-race children at their Baltimore school. But where the author was a skinny, fearful outsider, his friend was already revealing himself as the relentless force of nature he would become. Born to a Norwegian mother with “blood ties going back to the 900s and Olaf the Holy” and a black Vietnam vet turned philosophy professor, Templeton was a walking singularity from the start. He spent his childhood and adolescence in Europe and the United States, shuttling between the sophisticated chaos of his mother’s bohemian circles and the stable but square world of his father’s middle-class home. Though a soft “mama’s boy” at first, he learned Taekwondo from his black-belt father and became a first-class fighter, both in the dojo and on the streets. His exposure to European culture and education and the intellectual discipline of his father shaped him into a profoundly thoughtful young man—and a magnet for girls and women on both sides of the Atlantic. Despite his self-confidence, Templeton lacked real direction. He attended a prestigious university-preparatory school for international students in England where he became the lover of a rich Parisian girl. From there, he went trekking through jungles in Colombia, then trained in Marseille to join the Cousteau diving team. He then drifted into the Scandinavian criminal underworld and fled to Japan, where he almost killed a man in barroom brawl. In Thailand, he experienced the unexpected spiritual awakening that transformed him from warrior criminal to warrior hero dedicated to helping those in need. Matthews’ narrative reads like “the stuff of fiction, the stock-in-trade of thrillers and James Bond movies”; it’s also an exhilarating narrative about redemption and the power of personal choice.

Eat your heart out, James Bond.

Pub Date: July 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59420-296-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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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