The reasons why this book can’t tell the whole story—and how the stories it tells conflict—are fascinating tales in their...

TORN FROM THE WORLD

A GUERRILLA'S ESCAPE FROM A SECRET PRISON IN MEXICO

An account of a guerrilla prisoner’s torture in—and eventual escape from—a secret Mexican prison.

Like Gibler’s previous book on Mexican disappearances (I Couldn’t Even Imagine that They Would Kill Us: An Oral History of the Attacks Against the Students of Ayotzinapa, 2017), this is a work of advocacy journalism, one that dispenses with any pretense of objectivity in pursuit of a deeper truth. Even more provocatively, the author recognizes that in matters involving torture, the whole story may never be known. The experience transcends language and short-circuits memory, and it can’t be captured in the words of a cohesive narrative. “Torture is an extreme act of rupture and isolation,” writes Gibler before continuing to explore “the impossibility of communicating such pain, and the disconnection from language within the experience of pain.” The testimony of the captured guerrilla and the torture he experienced provide the heart of the narrative, rendered in the second person: “You don’t know if you’ll make it. That depends on them, they might even kill you by accident.” The author provides contextual elaboration for the direct quotes as well as accounts from journalists and officials, some of whom were skeptical of the veracity of the account, particularly of the prisoner’s ability to escape. Some of his former comrades feared that he’d cooperated with his captors, providing sensitive information and naming names. Gibler clearly believes his subject, but his inclusion of so many other perspectives suggests the difficulty of reporting on a subject so fraught with secrecy, where even crucial information from the man who is the subject of the book must be shielded to protect him. “This isn’t a dead man’s book,” says the escaped guerrilla. “This book is about someone alive. The book won’t tell the whole story.”

The reasons why this book can’t tell the whole story—and how the stories it tells conflict—are fascinating tales in their own right.

Pub Date: July 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-87286-752-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: City Lights

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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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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