A generous and empathetic portrait.

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FINDING MY FATHER

HIS CENTURY-LONG JOURNEY FROM WORLD WAR I WARSAW AND MY QUEST TO FOLLOW

A devoted daughter pays homage to an extraordinary man.

Drawing on abundant sources, sociolinguist Tannen creates a loving biography of her father, Eli Samuel Tannen, who indelibly shaped her life. She took on the project, she writes, “because he bequeathed his words to me—all the words he wrote and saved; all the letters and documents and cards and notes that he gathered and held on to; all the stories he remembered, wrote down, and told me; and the hours upon hours of conversations we had when he was old.” Arriving in the U.S. from Poland when he was 12, he soon became the breadwinner for his mother and sister after his father died. Although his mother wanted him to finish high school, he dropped out and studied law “because it was the only profession he could pursue at night.” In 1933, though, when he passed the bar, the Depression closed off opportunities to practice. His list of 68 jobs represents “a summary of his adult life” and “his pride in doing whatever he could—whatever he had to do—to support his family.” In 1958, he finally established his own law firm, specializing in workers’ compensation. Including eloquent passages from her father’s writings, Tannen relates his vivid memories of his childhood in Warsaw, portrayals of his accomplished aunts (one was Einstein’s student and lover), his fervent identification as a Jew, and his early idealistic membership in the Communist Party, which generated a thick FBI file. The author digs deeply into her parents’ relationship, concluding that their marriage resulted from “the inevitable interplay of two young people thrown together by circumstance; the temptations of sex (for him); the desire to marry (for her); and the scaling back of great, often unrealistic expectations by circumscribed opportunities.” Her brilliant, resolute father, Tannen amply shows, was worthy of her undying admiration.

A generous and empathetic portrait.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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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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