A trenchant and succinct depiction of the ongoing artful dodging of the nonagenarian statesman.

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KISSINGER'S SHADOW

THE LONG REACH OF AMERICA'S MOST CONTROVERSIAL STATESMAN

A focused examination of Henry Kissinger’s foreign policy as the normalization of “secrecy and spectacle,” from Southeast Asia to Chile to Iran to Iraq.

Grandin (History/New York Univ.; The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom and Deception in the New World, 2014, etc.) takes on what he considers the pernicious foreign policy legacy of Kissinger and his validation of the idea of perpetual need to “fight little wars in grey areas with resolve.” Unlike the “righteous indignation” of Christopher Hitchens’ The Trial of Henry Kissinger (2001) or Seymour Hersh’s incomplete The Price of Power (1983), Grandin takes in the full sweep of American foreign policy under Kissinger’s “shadow” through the present-day quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have featured the same imperial arrogance that drove Kissinger’s highly secret Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia policy under President Richard Nixon. The hallmarks of Kissinger’s style, as formulated as early as his 1954 Harvard doctoral thesis, were ethical relativism, a championing of man’s freedom over cause and effect and a rejection of the Cold War policy of containment. Kissinger’s “alarmism” proved “a good career move,” as Grandin demonstrates in his chronicle of Kissinger’s early advising of Nelson Rockefeller and his leaking of information on the September 1968 Paris peace talks between Washington and Hanoi to the Nixon campaign camp (to keep Democratic rival Hubert Humphrey from gaining the upper hand), which allowed Kissinger into the inner circle of Nixon, who “anointed” him national security adviser. Creating Operation Menu, the ultrasecret bombing campaign of Cambodia (a sovereign, neutral country), followed by a ground invasion, created a siege mentality within government in the face of civil opposition and ferocious adherence to action at all cost. Grandin knowledgeably depicts how “Nixon’s tool” similarly polarized governments in Pakistan, Angola, Iran, Chile, and elsewhere.

A trenchant and succinct depiction of the ongoing artful dodging of the nonagenarian statesman.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-449-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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