A book both educational and emotional.

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THE LEAGUE OF WIVES

THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE WOMEN WHO TOOK ON THE U.S. GOVERNMENT TO BRING THEIR HUSBANDS HOME

A Vietnam War story about the mostly unreported role of military wives who ignored protocol to help free their husbands, held as prisoners of war, from torture by the North Vietnamese.

Relying on extensive personal interviews and previously unseen documents, Lee (Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause, 2014) builds to February 1973, when 115 American POWs departed North Vietnam on U.S. military transport planes to receive health care, debriefings, and finally emergence into public view. Many of the American airmen never thought they would be shot from the sky, captured, and tortured—partly because of their ultraconfidence in their training, partly because they severely underestimated the fighting capabilities of the North Vietnamese military. Their wives back in the States, many with children, naturally felt desperate to learn the fates of their husbands. However, commanders in the American military services and diplomats in the U.S. State Department told them, often in condescending fashion, to remain quiet and docile so that negotiations with the enemy could proceed. Eventually, after years of excruciating worry, the wives of the prisoners—as well as fliers missing in action—began to actively discuss how to remedy the situation. As more years passed with no progress, wives on bases scattered around the country began organizing together. Lee’s cast of determined women is extensive and occasionally difficult to track as they enter and depart the narrative. Two of the most prominent are Sybil Stockdale (husband Jim) and Jane Denton (husband Jeremiah). (The renowned John McCain does not play a major role in the narrative.) In addition to the wrenching personal stories, the author handles context gracefully, especially regarding the wives and their ability to find their voices amid the continuing saga of an unjust war. “If these military wives hadn’t rejected the ‘keep quiet’ policy and spoken out,” she writes, “the POWs might have been left to languish in prison.”

A book both educational and emotional.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-16110-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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