There may never be a better biography of Copley than this sumptuous, exquisitely told story of a man and his time.

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A REVOLUTION IN COLOR

THE WORLD OF JOHN SINGLETON COPLEY

A majestic portrait of the American painter.

Kamensky (History/Harvard Univ.; The Exchange Artist: A Tale of High-Flying Speculation and America’s First Banking Collapse, 2008, etc.) delivers a masterful portrayal of John Singleton Copley (1738-1815), a “cautious man in a rash age,” his story “peculiarly American: hard-edged, uncloaked, impolite.” The author beautifully merges biography with history to tell the story of one of America’s earliest and finest portrait painters. Along the way, she provides insightful profiles of many of Copley’s key contemporaries, including Benjamin West and Joshua Reynolds. Born into a poor Boston household, Copley seemed destined to draw and paint. When his mother married a second time, to a portrait painter, Copley was able to take advantage of his new father’s skills and materials to teach himself to paint. It was his calling, and his business as a supremely gifted portrait painter of local businessmen and British officers took off. In the 1750s, his craft improved, with “fabrics that shimmered, almost rustled; eyes that seemed to have mind, even spirit behind them.” By 1764, he was experimenting with full-scale portraits. He painted the impressive A Boy with a Flying Squirrel in 1765, with his brother as the model. His portrait of John Hancock followed, and in 1768, he painted an iconic masterpiece, Paul Revere. At the time, Britain was relentlessly taxing items, including “painters colours,” and passing repressive acts. As a loyalist, Copley kept his politics quiet, but after the Boston Tea Party in 1773, he feared for his family. He sailed to England in 1774, never to return. He began painting large historical paintings, but, as Kamensky writes, “his insight diminished.” After signing the Treaty of Paris, John Adams sat for Copley in London for a portrait. Shortly after, Copley died “beneath a mountain of debts.” An ocean away, the painter’s halting rebirth began.

There may never be a better biography of Copley than this sumptuous, exquisitely told story of a man and his time.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-393-24001-6

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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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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