YEARS OF UPHEAVAL

Part two of the Kissinger memoirs begins with his appointment as Secretary of State, in September 1973, and ends with Nixon's resignation, in August 1974. (A third volume, covering the Ford years, can thus be expected.) Kissinger professes to have been surprised by the appointment, reasoning that Nixon would not want a powerful Secretary of State. His clout as National Security Adviser he attributes practically to chance. Nixon, he thinks, saw him prospectively as an innocuous ploy, meant to undercut State; but his key role in dramatic events—the secret Vietnam negotiations, setting up Nixon's historic trip to China—turned him into a celebrity. The travails of Watergate then compelled Nixon to cede power to a forceful Kissinger in order to safeguard the foreign policy successes he so cherished for his reputation. Indeed, the weakening of the president by Watergate—and the ensuing "Kafkaesque," "surrealistic" atmosphere—is one of the volume's leitmotifs. Kissinger resumes battle, though, over conflicts in the first volume. He is preoccupied with blaming Cambodia's ghastly fate on the North Vietnamese and the US Congress. The Lon Nol regime, he claims, consisted of the same personnel as Sihanouk's; and he compares Lon Nol's fall with that of Diem. Nonetheless he was negotiating with the Chinese to return Sihanouk to power when Congress undercut him by banning the further bombing of Cambodia—the only tool left him since Congress had also ruled out US military aid to the Cambodian government. The negotiations collapsed, and the fate of Cambodia was sealed. Against critics like William Shawcross, he presents a document supposedly setting out the truth of the bombing campaign to refute charges that its savagery led directly to Khmer Rouge savagery; this, however, is merely a self-defense by the then-US ambassador, and his Deputy Chief of Mission. On Chile, Kissinger still maintains that the US had no hand in overthrowing Allende, "an avowed enemy of democracy as we know it"; but since Allende was a man of principle, it would also be an insult not to assume that he intended to make good on his radical proposals. The details of Kissinger's Middle East shuttle diplomacy are here—as well as of the ill-fated Salt II negotiations: a victim of Watergate, in Kissinger's view, since only a weak president would have countenanced the wrecking tactics of Secretary of Defense Schlesinger. Watergate takes its final toll as Kissinger prays with Nixon on the last night—pondering the "biblical proportions" of his fate. Myth-making and self-justifying on a grand scale—but with fewer momentous happenings than in volume one.

Pub Date: March 25, 1982

ISBN: 1451636458

Page Count: 1362

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1982

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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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