An often engaging memoir that is especially strong in its insights into global poverty.

A GLOBAL LIFE

MY JOURNEY AMONG RICH AND POOR, FROM SYDNEY TO WALL STREET TO THE WORLD BANK

The story of the author’s unlikely ascent from middle-class Australian Jewish upbringing to Wall Street wealth, president of the World Bank and Middle East peace negotiator.

Born in 1933, Wolfensohn rose above his modest upbringing to earn a law degree at the University of Sydney and MBA at Harvard University. Always curious and talented, he learned fencing well enough to compete in the 1956 Olympic Games, served in the Royal Australian Air Force and became a talented cello player. He found world finance fascinating, especially as he tried to figure out the global wealth-poverty gap. The first half of the book frequently reads like a family album, as the author and his wife Elaine and their three children move among the cities of London, New York and Washington, D.C., because of his job shifts. The author’s candor about people he respects and dislikes is refreshing, as is his frank assessment of his own strengths and shortcomings. The memoir picks up noticeably in 1995, when Wolfensohn won the approval of President Clinton and other leaders to become president of the influential and controversial World Bank. Since the end of World War II, the World Bank had tried to help impoverished nations with infrastructure such as roads and dams, and had also played a role, along with its related agency, the International Monetary Fund, in curing the economies of debtor nations. Wolfensohn tells of resistance he faced inside and outside the World Bank as he tried to emphasize the elimination of poverty, improved treatment of subjugated women and environmental degradation in dozens of nations on multiple continents. The author served his second five-year term as bank president during the George W. Bush administration, and in general contrasts that administration unfavorably compared to Clinton's. After leaving the bank presidency, Wolfensohn served as an envoy trying to broker Israeli disengagement from Gaza, an effort that went poorly by his own admission, in part due to the doctrinaire positions of almost everybody involved.

An often engaging memoir that is especially strong in its insights into global poverty.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58648-255-8

Page Count: 480

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2010

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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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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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