A tale of impressive endurance, not enhanced by the surfeit of machismo.

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BACK IN THE FIGHT

THE EXPLOSIVE MEMOIR OF A SPECIAL OPERATOR WHO NEVER GAVE UP

Amped-up memoir of an elite warrior determined to fight on for his country, even after giving up a limb.

The Army Rangers are renowned as the original Special Operators, whose roots, according to Kapacziewski and co-author Sasser (Sanctuary, 2013, etc.), go back to pre–Revolutionary War frontiersmen. The author joined the military in order to become a Ranger; he describes handling the Ranger Indoctrination Program, similar to the Navy SEALs’ notorious “Hell Week,” with aplomb. “Rangers would be deployed to combat zones almost constantly” in the years after 9/11, he writes. “This was the best time in all history to be a Ranger.” Yet he bemusedly notes that “[n]othing went wrong” on his first tour of Afghanistan in 2002. Kapacziewski saw combat in repeated tours of Iraq, but he clearly enjoyed both the experience of war and the opportunity to marry an all-American girl at home, Kimberly (who provides narrative counterpoint). At first, under Special Ops’ protective canopy, the author felt charmed: “No one ever seemed to get hurt on our side.” He notes that modern accouterments like satellite phones, the Internet and Skype “made the war seem less dangerous.” But his luck ran out in Mosul in 2005, when a grenade came through a hatch of a Stryker vehicle, resulting in severe injuries to his arm and leg. His difficult rehabilitation makes up the narrative’s final third, with the twist that Kapacziewski’s mulish determination led to a unique triumph: “Almost a year and a half after amputation, I was back on the line as a squad leader…the first amputee to return to full combat duty.” Yet despite all his experiences, the author seems to have issues with the topics of masculinity and service: He makes clear to readers that any modern man who’s not an Army Ranger is probably a “sensitive, touchy-feely” effeminate pseudo-male.

A tale of impressive endurance, not enhanced by the surfeit of machismo.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1250010612

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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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