Diverse character studies that give a broad view of the sweeping economic revolutions of the era.

READ REVIEW

CIVIL WAR BARONS

THE TYCOONS, ENTREPRENEURS, INVENTORS, AND VISIONARIES WHO FORGED VICTORY AND SHAPED A NATION

Popular history of the economy of the Civil War era, a transformative time on the commercial/financial as much as the military fronts.

The usual picture of homefront conditions during the Civil War is a grim time of illness, cold, and hunger. From the Southern side, that’s not off the mark, but as Wert (A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee’s Triumph, 1862-1863, 2011, etc.) records, the Northern economy boomed, the result of decades of investment and industrialization during which the South relied on slave-based agriculture. So it was that “private gunmakers in just one Connecticut county produced more firearms than gunsmiths in the entire slaveholding South,” good cause for William Tecumseh Sherman to warn secessionists that they would be overwhelmed by “one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical and determined people on earth.” The economic strength of the North was fueled by inventors, financiers, and industrialists, nearly 20 of whom Wert profiles here. Readers will have heard of many of them, if only because their names endure in companies that have descended from them: John Deere, for instance, whose Illinois blacksmith shop took advantage of immigrant labor and the nearby Mississippi River to mass-produce a plow that, along with Cyrus McCormick’s reaper, enabled large-scale agriculture. Other familiar names carry stories that are sometimes more puzzling than inspirational: Gail Borden, for example, who tried to promote a “meat biscuit” in the place of Army rations but failed abjectly, since it “was simply not palatable,” only to thrive by selling condensed milk to the federal commissary. Wert glances over some key moments: for instance, the abolitionist sympathies of the Californians who would become transcontinental railroad barons, thwarting Jefferson Davis’ push to take that railroad first across the South. Still, he turns up some fine nuggets, such as repeating-rifle inventor Christopher Spencer’s failure to keep his fortune, consoling himself with the deathbed thought that “the best I can say is I don’t think I am leaving any enemies.”

Diverse character studies that give a broad view of the sweeping economic revolutions of the era.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-306-82512-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more