An unflinching account of “the good, the bad, and the bald, ugly truth” about cancer.

HAD I KNOWN

A MEMOIR OF SURVIVAL

The former Good Morning America host takes readers backstage in this unvarnished account of her bout with breast cancer.

A longtime advocate for women's health, Lunden (Wake Up Calls: Making the Most Out of Every Day, 2000, etc.) lives her life in the public eye. When she was diagnosed with two cancerous tumors in June 2014, she announced the news on national TV. The author describes the challenge of putting on a brave public face while undergoing rigorous treatment. Her stress peaked in September, when she was asked to appear on the cover of People without a wig to cover her chemotherapy-induced baldness. The decision to go ahead with the photo shoot was difficult, but she ultimately agreed. Her youthful appearance belied her age of 64, and her appearance was an important part of her celebrity status. “I am all about ‘sixty is the new forty,’ ” she writes, sharing her unwillingness to be called Grandma even though she adored the role. After her diagnosis with a rare type of aggressive breast cancer, the specialists she consulted were initially at odds about the best treatment protocol: whether to operate first or start with an initial round of chemotherapy before operating. The stakes were high. If the chemo treatment was successful, then the surgery would be less invasive; if it wasn’t, postponing surgery increased the risk. Lunden opted for chemotherapy, then surgery, followed by more chemotherapy and radiation. A strict diet and exercise regimen were also part of the package. The author describes her elation when the doctors determined that her tumors had shrunk dramatically after the first round of chemo. The side effects from chemotherapy were rough, but with the support of family, friends, and fans, Lunden was able to maintain her active lifestyle. Though not without its overwritten sections, the book is inspiring and informative.

An unflinching account of “the good, the bad, and the bald, ugly truth” about cancer.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-240408-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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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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