A rousing account of bloody sacrifice.

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BAND OF GIANTS

THE AMATEUR SOLDIERS WHO WON AMERICA'S INDEPENDENCE

Journalist and historian Kelly chronicles the poorly trained but determined men who fought with George Washington and other commanders to free the North American continent from British rule in the late 18th century.

In an oft-told but still inspiring saga, the author opens his popular history in 1754, as a young Washington was becoming seasoned in battles against French troops seeking to encroach on British territory. After that introduction, Kelly moves the action to 1774, as Washington commands a bunch of ragtag soon-to-be Americans against the British monarchy, which had lost favor due to high taxes, among many other transgressions. Kelly is fascinated by the details of specific battles, but he is well-aware that without finely wrought character sketches of those carrying out the fighting, military history can fall flat on the page. As a result, the author has carefully chosen his heroes and villains, using both primary and secondary sources to explain their paths to battle. A combination of psychobiography, lively prose and generous foreshadowing keeps the narrative moving from battle to battle, year after year, until the story ends in 1783. In the final chapter, Kelly looks back from the year 1824 at the remarkable victories of the revolutionaries; it was the 50th anniversary of the self-styled patriots’ encounter with the well-equipped British musketeers at Lexington Green. “Then began a celebration,” writes the author, “such as the nation had never seen: dinners, galas, speeches, salutes, parades, fireworks. At the Lafayette Ball…five thousand guests wandered through a fairyland dominated by thirty-foot-high transparencies showing Lafayette, Washington, and the marquis’ French estate at La Grange.” The hardships the patriots endured—lack of first-rate equipment, food, clothing and protection from severe weather, among other problems—were seared in the memories of the celebratory survivors and those who followed in the experiment of American democracy.

A rousing account of bloody sacrifice.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-137-27877-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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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

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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