An aggressive, unapologetic account of one man’s brutal war.

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CARNIVORE

A MEMOIR BY ONE OF THE DEADLIEST AMERICAN SOLDIERS OF ALL TIME

Combat tales from a tank commander–turned-sniper during the Iraq War.

During Sgt. 1st Class Dillard “Crazy Jay” Johnson’s distinguished, 21-year Army career—four Purple Hearts and numerous medals for valor, including the Silver Star—he did a tour in Bosnia and Iraq, where he saw only a bit of action in Desert Storm. Despite having a child at home afflicted with cerebral palsy, he volunteered to return to Iraq in 2003. Commanding a Bradley Fighting Vehicle christened “Carnivore,” Johnson led the invasion, taking part in the war’s first engagement, cutting a large and bloody swath through the country. After contracting radiation cancer from the depleted uranium rounds fired by his tank and after treatment at Walter Reed (where he was given a 1 in 4 chance to live), he returned to Iraq yet again. This time, with the ground war over, Johnson’s mission focused on the insurgency and killing the guerrillas placing the deadly IEDs. He was credited with 121 confirmed kills with his sniper rifle. With the aid of Tarr, Johnson fills in a complete picture of combat: the sleeplessness, the sandstorms, the constant fear of attack; the chaos that leads to killing cows and sheep accidentally and the absurd necessity of killing a lion on purpose; the difficulty of extracting a hunting knife from the ribs of a stabbed insurgent; the mundane lesson learned from packing soap too close to the coffee; the delicate protocol between a sniper and his spotter; the heartbreak at a fellow soldier’s death; the terror induced by incoming fire and the destruction inflicted by outgoing. Military buffs will appreciate the author’s frequent appraisals and comparisons of various tanks, rifles, knives and other accouterments of battle. Most readers will be impressed with Johnson’s undoubted courage and sacrifice, even as they are put off by his memoir’s tone, which too often uncomfortably erases the line between bluffness and boorishness, pride and braggadocio.

An aggressive, unapologetic account of one man’s brutal war.

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-228841-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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