An unusual firsthand report from the immigration wars.

DEAR AMERICA

NOTES OF AN UNDOCUMENTED CITIZEN

As if to dare the attorney general to come find him, Philippines-born immigrant journalist Vargas, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, owns up to being “illegal”—but not criminal.

As the author’s account opens and closes, he has been arrested in preparation for a “removal proceeding,” the consequence of his mother’s decision to put him on a plane with a supposed uncle and send him to the promised land of the United States at the age of 12 in 1993. That uncle was a smuggler, and the life Vargas found wasn’t all that it was supposed to be; neither did he have the papers—real ones, anyway—to support things like getting a driver’s license or going to the polls. Given the mood of the nation, which, as the author notes, officially no longer characterizes itself as “a nation of immigrants,” it’s understandable that he is perplexed and worried at his situation, perhaps less intuitively so that he should confess it in a book that almost certainly will not change many minds: Those opposed to immigration, illegal and legal, will dismiss his pleas, and those for it will share his indignation. Of more interest to readers on the middle ground, if there are any, is the author’s account of how few and technically complex the supposed paths for legal immigration are these days—and how easy it is to be deported. Thus he had to wrestle when, having appeared on-air to discuss his plea, he was invited by Nancy Pelosi to be her guest in Congress, an invitation that an immigration-lawyer friend urged him to decline: “It took .25 seconds for the Breitbart website to pull up 725 articles under the search ‘Jose Antonio Vargas.’ Breitbart runs immigration policy in the United States.” Though in fact detained, the author was released and now lives in a kind of legal limbo while waiting to see what, if anything, will happen.

An unusual firsthand report from the immigration wars.

Pub Date: Sept. 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-285135-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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