A fine appreciation—and explanation—of freedom’s champion.

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LION OF LIBERTY

PATRICK HENRY AND THE CALL TO A NEW NATION

A veteran biographer specializing in the Founding Fathers offers a short, sharp life of the Virginia patriot.

Most Americans know Patrick Henry only for his 1775 “liberty or death” speech. Like his northern counterpart, Samuel Adams, he was a driving force for independence who never received the first-tier historical treatment reserved for only a handful of the Founders. Unger (The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness, 2009, etc.) offers a few reasons why. First, notwithstanding his service in the House of Burgesses, his distinction as Virginia’s first governor and his election three more times to that office, Henry was always something of an outsider, a kind of Andrew Jackson Democrat before there was such a thing. He made his name as a defender of the common people, an eloquent, unusually effective attorney in the state’s Piedmont area. Though he always retained the healthy regard of Washington and John Marshall, Henry stood apart from the rest of the Tidewater aristocracy that ruled Virginia and later the nation. Second, though he frequently inserted himself in the raging political battles of his era, Henry was not as consumed by politics as, say, Jefferson or Madison. He preferred his thriving legal practice, large family and wide circle of friends. He bought and sold numerous properties and frequently relocated his home plantation, despite debilitating illnesses that plagued him most of his adult life. Finally, with the Revolution won and the new nation organizing itself years later under the proposed Constitution, Henry opposed ratification, thundering against the surrender of liberty to a federal authority, a stance that prevented his joining Washington’s administration. Though he later softened his criticisms of the federal government, his health had so deteriorated that he declined Washington’s numerous offers of high office, posts which might well have further burnished his name.

A fine appreciation—and explanation—of freedom’s champion.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-306-81886-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2010

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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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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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