A radical new biography that should interest historians, military strategists, and psychologists.

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PATTON

THE MADNESS BEHIND THE GENIUS

A revisionist history of Gen. George S. Patton that attributes his famously erratic behavior to a personality disorder.

Patton is almost universally regarded as an American war hero and a genius tactician, but less well-known, according to debut author Sudmeier, were the unmistakable signs of his mental instability. The author—the award-winning screenwriter of the 2006 docudrama Patton’s Secret Mission—considers what he believes to be ample evidence that Patton had a diagnosable, psychological affliction. The general was capable of extraordinary cruelty, he says, and once boasted to his wife that he killed another American soldier with a shovel. Sudmeier also asserts that Patton was a rabid racist with little empathy, in general—he even treated animals with cruel indifference. Although he was a brave and gifted leader, he was also capable of terrible mistakes in judgment, apparently due to a vainglorious desire for recognition; in fact, Patton was so obsessed with his own legacy, the author says, that he sometimes recklessly led his men to certain death. Sudmeier meticulously reconsiders the general’s finest moments, such as the 1944 liberation of Bastogne, Belgium, and his worst disasters, such as the infamous 1945 raid of a prisoner-of-war camp in Hammelburg, Germany. Ultimately, the author concludes that Patton suffered from narcissistic personality disorder, demonstrated by a volatile combination of a superiority complex and fragile ego. Sudmeier also assesses Patton’s private life, characterizing him as a relentless social climber and a largely dysfunctional parent. Especially for such a brief study, this is impressively comprehensive, including detailed analysis of Patton’s personal and professional relationships as well as his effectiveness as a general. As a result, this portrait is neither a hagiography nor a hit job—the author does give Patton his due for all of his many virtues as a soldier, but he also punctures the mystique of invincibility that’s often seen in fawning biographies of the man. Of course, a psychological diagnosis of any historical figure must be taken with a grain of salt, and some of Sudmeier’s conclusions are more speculative than empirical. Nonetheless, this is a thorough, insightful account.

A radical new biography that should interest historians, military strategists, and psychologists.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5395-7795-9

Page Count: 254

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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

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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

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