Realistic overview of an often misunderstood fighting force.

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SEAL TEAM SIX

MEMOIRS OF AN ELITE SEAL SNIPER

Though Templin is a co-author, the bulk of this book belongs to Wasdin, a veteran of the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident who reflects on his service and life after the Navy SEALs.

While most are aware that the SEALs are America’s military elite, few know that “[w]hen the SEALs send their elite, they send SEAL Team Six,” a group tasked with counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Wasdin saw combat with Team Six, following an unusual Navy career and a hardscrabble early life. He stolidly discusses an impoverished Southern childhood of farm work and frequent beatings by his stepfather: “Leon didn’t kill me, but anything that was not done exactly right, I paid for.” The author was drawn to the discipline of JROTC in high school; unable to afford college, he signed up for the Navy’s Search and Rescue program in the early ’80s. After distinguishing himself on risky helicopter-borne operations, he re-enlisted in exchange for a tryout in the notoriously difficult SEALs training program. Wasdin ably portrays this harrowing experience, particularly Hell Week, which was designed to weed out applicants. As a SEAL, Wasdin picked the grueling specialty of sniper; he saw action in Grenada, and received a Navy Commendation Medal in 1991 for covert operations during Desert Storm. The heart of the book is the ill-fated Battle of Mogadishu, where SEAL Team Six first operated a safe house in enemy territory, then became involved in the protracted firefight around two downed helicopters; Wasdin’s grave wounds ended his SEAL career. The author demonstrates an impressive attention to detail, vividly recalling the chronology of several violent missions and comfortably discussing the nitty-gritty of the SEALs’ uncompromising training and cutting-edge equipment and tactics. The writing is plainspoken and not overly reflective—the author doesn’t consider how his difficult upbringing might have contributed to his warrior’s nature. Still, as he describes his exit from military life, Wasdin gives a good sense of how confronting warfare and bloody death has ultimately made him a more contemplative and faithful person.

Realistic overview of an often misunderstood fighting force.

Pub Date: May 10, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-312-69945-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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