A modest, beguiling biography that brilliantly mirrors its understated and remarkable subject.

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THE FINAL RACE

THE INCREDIBLE WORLD WAR II STORY OF THE OLYMPIAN WHO INSPIRED CHARIOTS OF FIRE

This straightforward, enthusiastic biography by Eichinger and Everson recounts the life story of Eric Liddell, the Olympic athlete whose achievements inspired the iconic movie Chariots of Fire.

The opening sequence of Chariots of Fire—men running barefoot on a Scottish beach backed by a soundtrack scored by Vangelis—is one of the most enduring scenes in cinema. Ironically, the subject of the movie, Eric Liddell, once one of the most famous men in Britain, is perhaps now less well-known than that scene. Eichinger and Everson’s biography seeks to redress this by reilluminating a remarkable life. Liddell was born in China, the second son of Scottish missionaries. At 5, he and his brother Robert were enrolled in a boarding school in London while their parents continued their work in the Far East. From competing as a university freshman and taking a “shocking first in the 100 meters” against Edinburgh’s fastest sprinter to winning gold in the 400 meters at the 1924 Paris Olympics, Liddell led a life of achievement and victory. Yet he is maybe more famous for declining to compete in the 100-meter event of that same Olympics due to his religious respect for the Christian Sabbath. The biography charts his lifelong relationship with God, from his early curiosity with the intersection of science and theology to his work as a missionary in his later years. Short openings to chapters imagine key moments in Liddell’s life: “Eric stretched his legs from the seat he’d nearly collapsed into, one directly opposite the seat his friend slouched on. He glanced out the small window of the train, smudged with a child’s fingerprints from an earlier passage, to the platform on the other side.” These elegantly written passages are elaborated on with factual, to-the-point details: “The physical exertion through sport and competition was a welcome break from his daily pedagogical aerobics. Simply put, running gave his mind a rest.” The biography is occasionally oversentimental; Duncan Hamilton’s For the Glory: Eric Liddell’s Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr suffers the same pitfall. The authors’ admiration for, and fascination with, Liddell, however, is palpable on every page, demonstrated by the depth of research and the care taken to preserve his legacy.

A modest, beguiling biography that brilliantly mirrors its understated and remarkable subject.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4964-1994-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Tyndale Momentum

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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

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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

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