Doesn’t answer the question of what makes Viesturs and his fellow mountaineers repeatedly risk life and limb, but certainly...

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NO SHORTCUTS TO THE TOP

CLIMBING THE WORLD’S 14 HIGHEST PEAKS

The bracing story of one man’s 18-year quest to climb all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter-plus mountains.

Viesturs became the sixth man ever to accomplish that feat when he conquered Annapurna in Nepal, in May 2005. Almost equally inspirational is Viesturs’s determination to somehow forge a living out of his passion for mountaineering. He realized early on that he must choose between his veterinary practice and his love for mountain-climbing, initially scrambling to earn a living as a house-builder and mountain guide until the idea of climbing all 14 of the world's highest peaks sent some corporate sponsors his way. Some unavoidable repetitions occur as we follow Viesturs and his various partners up and down the Himalayas, and the narrative never quite manages to make us appreciate the grueling conditions of the climb, or the sheer wonder of reaching the summit. Still, the author does a good job of outlining the logistics of mountaineering: the dizzying trails leading to base camp, the truckloads of clothing and gear required, even the difficulties of relieving oneself at 26,000 feet. In addition to his own remarkable story, Viesturs provides valuable portraits of the many other mountaineers, past and present, who climbed and sometimes perished on the same mountains. Particularly fascinating is his own account of the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest, made famous by Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. (Viesturs and his partners, having decided against a summit attempt due to deteriorating conditions, passed on their way down the doomed team of climbers heading up.) A self-described “purist” who reached most of his summits without the use of supplemental oxygen, the author invites our awe for the early mountaineers who braved life-threatening conditions without the high-tech gear available to climbers today.

Doesn’t answer the question of what makes Viesturs and his fellow mountaineers repeatedly risk life and limb, but certainly inspires respect for their monumental efforts.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2006

ISBN: 0-7679-2470-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2006

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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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