Good reading for military buffs who enjoyed the authors’ previous book.



Six long accounts of wars in which great captains fought on either side.

Excepting the occasional masterpiece like John Keegan’s The Face of Battle, military buffs often look down their noses at the “great battles” genre. However, historians and professors Lacey (Marine Corps War College) and Murray (Naval War College) follow their previous book, Moment of Battle: The Twenty Clashes That Changed the World (2013), with another expert mixture of lively nuts-and-bolts descriptions of combat and opinions on why some legendary generals won their wars and others did not. Hannibal kept defeating Roman armies, but Romans never gave up; eventually, their best general, Scipio, defeated Hannibal. Caesar is better known, but Pompey, equally triumphant during his lifetime, chose the wrong allies when the two had a falling out. During the Crusades, Richard the Lionhearted won many victories, but Saladin possessed more resources and patience, so Richard’s goal, Jerusalem, remained out of reach. Napoleon’s early victories saved revolutionary France and then megalomania took over. Against stubborn enemies, megalomaniacal leaders, no matter how brilliant, sooner or later make stupid decisions, and Napoleon did not break the mold. Robert E. Lee knew how to win battles, but Ulysses S. Grant knew how to win the war. Erwin Rommel, Bernard Montgomery, and George Patton were successful despite vastly disparate personalities. “Entirely different cultures, both national and military, formed their approaches to leadership,” write the authors in the “Conclusion” section of that chapter. In this genre, it’s obligatory to tie matters together with an insightful historical analysis, and the authors do their best without breaking new ground. They emphasize that wars are won by generals with a strategic overview of what they must accomplish (Scipio, Saladin, Grant) and lost by those who concentrate on winning battles (Hannibal, Napoleon, Lee). While collections of descriptions of famous campaigns remain the lowest common denominator of military history, this is a solid addition to the genre.

Good reading for military buffs who enjoyed the authors’ previous book.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54755-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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 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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