A fascinating private dispatch from the front lines, full of insights into a time of historic social change.

Destiny's Child: Memoirs of a Preacher's Daughter

Taylor Gibbs’ (Social Welfare, Emerita/Univ. of California, Berkeley; Children of Color: Psychological Interventions with Culturally Diverse Youth, 2003, etc.) comprehensive memoir gives an account of a remarkable family of political and civil rights activists during one of the most socially turbulent times in our nation’s history.

Born to prominent black Baptist minister Julian Taylor and his wife, Margaret, Taylor Gibbs grew up in a large family that included not only her own siblings, but also several troubled foster children. Living in relative economic privilege in predominantly white New England, both of Taylor Gibbs’ parents were nevertheless deeply committed to political and social justice issues, campaigning for high-profile Democratic politicians and working extensively with the NAACP. Firmly entrenched in the civil rights movement, Taylor Gibbs and her family came to know and work alongside an astonishing number of political luminaries and activists—Eleanor Roosevelt, Thurgood Marshall, a young Martin Luther King Jr. (who took Taylor Gibbs to church several times after their fathers met at the National Baptist Convention), Bishop Desmond Tutu, the Clintons (the author’s son Geoffrey was an aide to Bill Clinton during his time as governor of Arkansas) and the Obamas. Academic as well as civic-minded, Taylor Gibbs attended Radcliffe College to study sociology before going on to pursue graduate degrees in social welfare and a doctorate in clinical psychology. With her exhaustive academic and real-world experience, Taylor Gibbs brings a unique perspective to issues of social justice, women’s rights and racial equality, as well as their often complicated points of intersection. For instance, she candidly recalls visiting Thurgood Marshall, a close family friend, to ask for a summer internship in the NAACP, for which she was more than amply qualified. His condescension toward her, punctuated with a pat on the rump as she was leaving, provides a testament to the increased difficulties faced by ambitious women of color.

A fascinating private dispatch from the front lines, full of insights into a time of historic social change.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1497348462

Page Count: 468

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2014

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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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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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