First-rate reporting and erudition underlie this successful effort to re-establish the reputation of an indispensable...

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THE LAST VOLCANO

A MAN, A ROMANCE, AND THE QUEST TO UNDERSTAND NATURE'S MOST MAGNIFICENT FURY

A United States Geological Survey scientist returns with a rich account of one of his predecessors: Thomas Jaggar (1871-1953), a somewhat forgotten pioneer in volcanology.

Dvorak (Earthquake Storms: The Fascinating History and Volatile Future of the San Andreas Fault, 2015), who now operates the telescope at Mauna Kea in Hawaii, a site where Jaggar spent some enormously productive years, brings not just a sharp understanding of the scientific issues involved, but also a humanist’s heart. We see him as a flawed human being but a ferociously dedicated researcher, a fearless adventurer (who ran toward eruptions), and a visionary. The author begins with Jaggar’s Cincinnati boyhood in the home of an important local clergyman, then commences his swift, engaging accounts of Jaggar’s numerous visits to remote (and dangerous) sites, travels that make the word peripatetic seem insufficient. Alaska, Japan, the Caribbean, Hawaii—these are a few of the places he traveled to understand what fascinated him the most: the power in the Earth. Dvorak pauses occasionally to chronicle Jaggar’s personal life (which became somewhat scandalous), but these stories, though important, are not his focus. He seeks to teach readers about volcanology—and does so in terms that laypeople can comprehend—and he makes us feel the excitement, the fear, and the intense heat of a lava flow. We get some Hawaiian history, as well, with an especially interesting section about the origin of the goddess Pele and how many Hawaiians were quick to credit or blame her for the vagaries of the volcanoes. Occasionally, Dvorak steps into the story to add some information about one of his own related experiences, no more affectingly so than when he visited the Japanese relatives of one of Jaggar’s Hawaiian assistants, a family rounded up during the World War II internment-camp period.

First-rate reporting and erudition underlie this successful effort to re-establish the reputation of an indispensable scientist.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60598-921-1

Page Count: 356

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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