No thoughtful reader of this book will look at his or her computer or cellphone the same way again.

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BATTLING FIVE CENTURIES OF EXPLOITATION AND GREED

Eye-opening reportage from an African nation that has been robbed and despoiled for centuries—but that is now finding paths of resistance.

Human-rights activists Prendergast (co-author: The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes, 2010, etc.) and Bafilemba, the latter a Congolese field researcher, begin with the story of a woman who was abducted by a local militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo, held captive for 15 months, and repeatedly raped as “the wife of everyone.” She managed to escape, only to be brutalized again by invading Rwandan soldiers, and finally became a teacher and mentor “to countless Congolese women who have experienced physical and emotional trauma.” Hers is a story that has been repeated again and again for centuries as Congolese rulers, for a price, have allowed outside powers to loot its resources, by which the nation should rightfully be one of the richest in the world. Instead, in recent history, it has been ruled by kleptocrats—currently Joseph Kabila, who “has subverted democratic processes and violently repressed independent and opposition voices in order to retain power indefinitely”—even as those outside interests remove astonishing quantities of what the authors enumerate as four “conflict minerals.” These include tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold, as well as cobalt and diamonds, all things that enrich the developed world and make many of its modern technologies possible. Change is possible: The authors hold that Congo offers a case study not just in inequality and postcolonial exploitation but also in what can be done about them, including being sure that jewelers source their supplies responsibly and use “conflict-free artisanal gold from Congo in their jewelry lines.” Gosling provides excellent images of daily life in Congo, while, in a postscript, Dave Eggers urges readers to find ways to support small-scale “local projects conceived and run by local residents,” funding the people who most need help.

No thoughtful reader of this book will look at his or her computer or cellphone the same way again.

Pub Date: Dec. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4555-8464-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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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

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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