An amusing account of celebrity travelers through the primitive and yet vaguely familiar America of 100 years ago.

THE VAGABONDS

THE STORY OF HENRY FORD AND THOMAS EDISON'S TEN-YEAR ROAD TRIP

Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, road-tripping buddies.

Beginning in 1914, the two American icons took yearly automobile trips through the countryside. Even though they didn’t accomplish much of note during these trips, journalist Guinn (The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and Peoples Temple, 2017) tells an entertaining story that mixes sharp portraits of their vivid personalities with details of their travels and a portrait of American society during those years. Although past his prime, Edison was universally worshipped as the world’s greatest inventor, while Ford was at his peak, having developed an automobile cheap enough for the middle-class families who bought it in droves. Idolizing the older man, Ford had requested an autographed photograph in 1911. A visit to Edison’s New Jersey lab soon followed, and the two hit it off. Ford accepted an invitation to Edison’s retreat in Florida, where they drove to the Everglades, which was then a trackless wilderness. Although this initial trip was an unpleasant experience, it began a yearly series of auto journeys. Edison and Ford were usually accompanied by Harvey Firestone (of Firestone Tires), a wealthy entrepreneur happy to serve as Ford’s factotum, organizing the itinerary. No ascetic, Ford paid for several vehicles filled with camping and cooking equipment, servants, and a chef that accompanied them. While Ford often stayed in hotels, Edison roughed it. According to Guinn, few Americans in 1914 ventured into the hinterland, a nearly roadless, exotic, often impoverished setting. Ten years later, thanks partly to enthusiastic newspaper coverage, “autocamping” became the rage, the recognizable America of campgrounds, motels, diners, and gas stations took shape, and the vagabonds themselves faded from headlines in favor of the latest 1920s idols. “A contributing factor to the end of the trips wasn’t the Vagabonds’ expectation of too much attention being paid to them, but too little,” writes the author.

An amusing account of celebrity travelers through the primitive and yet vaguely familiar America of 100 years ago.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5930-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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