A sometimes-grisly but compulsively readable look behind the surgeon’s mask.



A former surgeon for the New York City Police Department recounts his life from his Long Beach, New York, childhood to 9/11.

“This is not your ordinary biography of a doctor,” says debut author Fried in his introduction, and, indeed, his life is an extraordinary one. Once a smart, chubby kid interested in photography and working for the family’s used-furniture store, he later became a mildly anti-social medical student and, finally, a fledgling surgeon. He took part in a program that whittled 40 interns down to eight chief residents over five years, which made sleep a stranger to him and his home life an afterthought. As a surgeon, he encountered death and dismemberment on a daily basis—at one point, the memoir blurs into a series of capsule case studies that aren’t for the squeamish. He also dealt with the monotony of checking new police recruits for hernias and hemorrhoids. Interspersed are tales of egomaniacal, money-obsessed colleagues; the sometimes-stodgy machinations of bureaucracies; a stint reviewing malpractice suits; a mysterious police detective known only as “Trenchcoat”; and the author’s struggle to balance a demanding, stressful career with the needs of a young family. It’s a tremendous amount of life to pack into a few hundred pages, but Fried’s writing is cleareyed and no-nonsense throughout, which is fitting for someone whose profession doesn’t allow do-overs. As a result, the author’s prose can appear somewhat detached at times—he sketches his youthful years without sentiment, and his younger brother merits little more than a paragraph—but Fried admits that years of surgical training taught him to keep his emotions under control. This ultimately helps the book, as it would likely be a grueling read, otherwise; when Fried does go into deeply personal experiences, such as his near-fatal struggle with hepatitis B or his frankly terrifying time at the World Trade Center site during 9/11, they’re more evocative because of the contrast. Elsewhere, the author’s bone-dry sense of humor helps put even horrific situations into perspective. Overall, he remains an optimistic presence in a life story that could have been a litany of tragedy.

A sometimes-grisly but compulsively readable look behind the surgeon’s mask.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4808-4628-9

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


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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