A compelling account of a woman who, though long forgotten, changed the way the world viewed swimming. Not quite equal in...

YOUNG WOMAN AND THE SEA

HOW TRUDY EDERLE CONQUERED THE ENGLISH CHANNEL AND INSPIRED THE WORLD

The Best American Sports Writing series editor offers a history of the first woman to swim the English Channel.

In the era of Michael Phelps, it’s easy to forget that 100 years ago the sport of swimming was essentially nonexistent. Considered a necessary skill in ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, swimming eventually became a sport of the elite. Everything changed, however, in the early 1900s when a fatal fire broke out on a steamship in New York Harbor, leaving more than 1,000 people dead as they jumped overboard and drowned in shallow waters. Almost immediately, swimming societies began to spring up across the country to quell the palpable public outrage. Among those newly enrolled in lessons was Gertrude Ederle, a young woman who sought solace in the water to counter the progressive deafness brought on by an early bout of measles. Ederle became dominant in the newly emerging sport, equally at ease swimming sprints or long distances. After winning one gold and two bronze medals in a disappointing 1924 Olympic showing, she turned her efforts to crossing the English Channel. Stout (The Dodgers: 120 Years of Dodgers Baseball, 2004, etc.) adeptly traces the history of swimming and Ederle’s significance in it. Whether recounting the origins of modern strokes or the geological formation of the English Channel, the author is comprehensive in his research. His blow-by-blow accounts of Ederle’s two attempts to cross from Dover, England, to Cape Gris-Nez, France, demonstrate his engaging style. Stout is also a strong finisher—the second half of the book, saturated with thrills and melodrama, is far superior to the first.

A compelling account of a woman who, though long forgotten, changed the way the world viewed swimming. Not quite equal in historical scope to Gavin Mortimer’s The Great Swim (2008), but more colorful than Tim Dahlberg’s America’s Girl (2009).

Pub Date: July 28, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-618-85868-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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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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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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