A slim, straightforward addition to the record of space travel.

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APOLLO PILOT

THE MEMOIR OF ASTRONAUT DONN EISELE

A posthumous memoir gives an unsung astronaut his due.

In the annals of manned space flight, Donn Eisele (1930-1987) would seem to be the forgotten man, his name not as recognizable as that of crewmates Wally Schirra and Walt Cunningham, let alone John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. Yet the author was a member of Apollo 7, the first manned mission in the Apollo program following the tragic launch that had killed their predecessors. Well after his death, his widow shared some artifacts that included various drafts of a memoir, mainly focusing on his formative experiences in becoming an astronaut and his vivid impressions of the historic mission. Yet the book also suggests his bitterness at being marginalized in the aftermath of the mission and the tensions between the astronauts and those on the ground, particularly those more concerned with the public image of the space program than with safety. He calls the launch-pad fire that took the lives of the three original Apollo astronauts “so preventable, so unnecessary—almost criminal.” He presents Schirra as something of a prima donna, but all three crewmembers shared some suspicion and disdain toward those they felt were more concerned with timetables, budgets, and public image than with sharing responsibility with the astronauts who had more actual experience. Eisele writes of the need to keep the astronauts’ constant philandering secret and of the willing young women who were passed from one astronaut to the next. As the first astronaut to divorce, shortly after returning from space, he soon realized that he had no future with NASA. He was “very bitter about his treatment,” according to his second wife, who says that not a single friend from the tightly knit astronaut community attended their wedding. Because astronauts aren’t necessarily writers, even those with extraordinary experiences have trouble rendering them as more than, “I’m free! I’m floating! What a feeling!” But now those feelings are attached to a name barely mentioned in historical accounts.

A slim, straightforward addition to the record of space travel.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8032-6283-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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