Seemingly covering disparate topics, Baker beautifully connects them all with an incisive, clear writing style and sharp...

THE LAST ENGLISHMEN

LOVE, WAR, AND THE END OF EMPIRE

A Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist takes readers on a journey through the Indian subcontinent at the closing of the British Empire.

Baker (The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism, 2011, etc.) narrates the stories of geologist John Auden (1903-1991) and surveyor Michael Spender (1906-1945), who both thoroughly explored this mysterious region of the world. They worked together on a survey expedition to map K2 and the surrounding Himalayas in a time before nylon tents, fleece bedrolls, and oxygen tanks. Harboring a secret desire to conquer Mount Everest, Auden diligently studied and surveyed the mountains to learn how and why the range was formed. While he, as many, did not accept the theory of continental drift, he was the first to notice the Main Central Thrust, the fault that runs the 1,500-mile length of the Himalayas. His observations and classifications of the composition and arrangement of rocks fueled countless post–World War II projects as India modernized. Spender brought his craft of photogrammetry—making measurements from photos (aerial and otherwise)—to create topographic maps. During the war, he helped define the art of photographic interpretation. With a host of interpreters working for him, he identified Nazis amassing equipment for invasions. Refreshingly, Baker doesn’t just focus on these two remarkable men. She also engagingly discusses the men and women who explored world events with art, poetry, and prose, seeing different angles and using different tools. W.H. Auden (John’s brother), Stephen Spender (Michael’s brother), Nancy Sharp (Michael’s wife), and Chris Isherwood all helped to map the cultural landscape of that era. In India, there was Sudhin Datta, a Bengali intellectual who founded Parichay, a literary journal for men of letters, and was the host of a weekly discussion group in Calcutta.

Seemingly covering disparate topics, Baker beautifully connects them all with an incisive, clear writing style and sharp descriptions of the terrain. A book for any readers curious about India after 1900.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-55597-804-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Graywolf

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 16

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

Did you like this book?

more