A meticulously researched, substantial contribution to New York history.

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CCB

THE LIFE AND CENTURY OF CHARLES C. BURLINGHAM, NEW YORK’S FIRST CITIZEN, 1858-1959

Earnest study of the famed New York “meddler” who spent a long life power-brokering, serving the public good in the bargain: an anti-Robert Moses, one might say.

Charles C. Burlingham, “CCB” to everyone who ever met him, grew up in the long shadow of the Civil War in a New York that had emerged as an international center of every sort of business imaginable. Conservative by sensibility but liberal by leaning, Burlingham lamented the loss of the old New York and the corruption that came with the new. Fittingly, perhaps, he chose as his profession the practice of admiralty or maritime law, governed by a code that largely derived from ancient seafaring laws of England. Yet even there the modern caught up to him; as admiring biographer Martin (Verdi at the Golden Gate, 1993, etc.) writes, Burlingham earned wide renown late in life as attorney for the defendant owners of the sunken ship Titanic, chief among them J. Pierpont Morgan, who, though forced to settle with the claimants in the aftermath of that tragedy, did so for $664,000 against $18 million, “less than 4 percent of that potential liability.” Morgan was grateful, and Burlingham was able to use the proceeds to expand his admiralty firm just at a time when New York’s importance as a port was ever increasing. Yet during all that time, Burlingham worked steadily to broaden his influence in political circles on both a local and national level; as Martin writes, “He had no power, no elective office or constituency at the polls, but he had influence with many who did,” including, still later in life, Fiorello La Guardia and Franklin Roosevelt. He was particularly skillful as a sort of fixer of legal matters, instrumental in advancing the careers of Felix Frankfurter, Benjamin Cardozo and other jurists. Martin closes his comprehensive biography by suggesting that Burlingham, a skilled practitioner of the arts of reasoned discourse, might fit in nicely today as a blogger—an opinionated shaper of opinion who, as one grudgingly admiring contemporary said, “was always aboveboard.”

A meticulously researched, substantial contribution to New York history.

Pub Date: April 15, 2005

ISBN: 0-8090-7317-X

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2005

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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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