COMPANERO

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF CHE GUEVARA

In the second Guevara biography this year (after John Lee Anderson's Che Guevara, p. 343), chronicler of the Latin American left Casta§eda (Political Science/New York Univ.) distinguishes himself from other biographers by stripping Guevara of myths while bowing to his role as the principal icon of the '60s. Despite the left leanings of his grandmother and mother, Guevara developed his political views slowly as an outgrowth of his sense of outrage at the conditions and treatment of the poor he witnessed throughout the region. Although disgusted with the US- backed ouster of Guatemalan reformist Arbenz, it was only after Guevara met Fidel Castro in Mexico in 1955 that his bookish attraction to Marxist-Leninism (and his preference for the Soviet Union over the US as a model of political development) gave way to a revolutionary commitment. Once he was entrenched in Castro's inner circle, Guevara's sympathies with the USSR rose and fell with exactly the opposite timing of Castro's. Casta§eda notes that in battle, Guevara's impulsive strategic decisions required the collaboration of a highly organized commander such as Castro. Without him, Guevara's extreme egalitarianism, revolutionary zeal, and strong will proved insufficient for repeated victory. As this became clear, Casta§eda suggests, Castro opted against a rescue mission for the ailing revolutionary in Bolivia, as Guevara had become more useful as a martyr than as a fighter. Finally, the author dismisses the popular myth that Guevara went down with his guns blazing—he was executed by Bolivian authorities. Along the way, Casta§eda presents some interesting, if quirky, theories on Guevara's psychological development. For example, he postulates that asthma played a key role in the revolutionary's predilection for armed struggle: Combat produces adrenaline, providing natural relief from asthma, while the deliberation of ambiguities brought on attacks. A solid yet easy to read account, with ample footnotes to satisfy serious readers. (16 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 1997

ISBN: 0-679-44034-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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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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