An important message tucked inside an unappealing bottle.

ONE SQUARE INCH OF SILENCE

ONE MAN’S SEARCH FOR NATURAL SILENCE IN A NOISY WORLD

A “Sound Tracker” travels from Washington state to Washington, D.C., measuring and recording noise, ruminating, interviewing and fulminating.

The description of this odyssey is rendered in the first-person voice of Hempton, an acoustic ecologist and Emmy-winning sound recordist who provides audio clips to various media outlets and sells CDs of nature’s sounds of silence. (Freelance journalist Grossman makes an appearance late in the text as a companion and ally.) In 2005 Hempton established what he calls “One Square Inch of Silence” in Olympic National Park’s Hoh Rain Forest. He believes it is the quietest spot in America and has been lobbying hard to maintain it, principally by working to have airlines alter flight patterns to avoid national parks. After a quick explanation of how he became interested in the science of silence, Hempton takes us aboard a 1964 VW bus on an eccentric road trip that zigzags here and there to enable him to introduce us to various people—both professionals and ordinary folks—whom he enlists to tell part of the story. Many of the verbatim conversations are stilted; people talk in thick, organized and often eye-glazing paragraphs. Comments such as “another blade of grass is a different poem” sound like “Deep Thoughts” by Jack Handey. In addition, the authors’ determination to mention the brand name of apparently every item used may lead cynical readers to wonder if they received product-placement fees. (Do we need to know that the alarm clock came from Radio Shack?) Like many a True Believer, Hempton frequently employs a grating tone of moral superiority. This invites readers to look for hypocrisy: Why did he drive such a noisy, gas-wasting vehicle? He did walk the final 100 miles into D.C., where he lobbied some bureaucrats and one of his senators.

An important message tucked inside an unappealing bottle.

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-5908-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 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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