LINES AND SHADOWS

Strange and powerful cop-fact, from a past-master of cop-fiction: the story of ten San Diego police officers assigned to patrol, on foot, at night, the cactus-filled, snake-infested canyons along the Mexican border. Not, however, to intercept aliens illegally entering the country—there were far too many—but to arrest the violent, sadistic bandits who preyed on the defenseless aliens in the canyons, The ten were the Border Alien Robbery Force (with the inevitable acronym), almost all Mexican-Americans, led by the super-macho Sergeant Manny Lopez ("I was bored. Real bored. . . . That's why I joined [the] task force")—who seemed to know no fear and whose men, as time went on, became more and more convinced he was both invulnerable and crazy. ("This bastard would draw on The Holy Ghost!") Night after night, dressed like winos, crawling around in the brush, grappling with "guys with knives and icepicks. . . guys who smelled like garbage," it began to get to the men in the BARF squad. "We were afraid to use our guns at first," said one. "We were still normal policemen." They didn't stay normal long. For one thing, the media found them: "Border shooting! Film at eleven!" Celebrity turned them into The Last of the Gunslingers. ("Think of it: ten little hardball lawmen, shooting down Mexican bandits. . . out there in the cactus and rocks and tarantulas. . . . If that wasn't a John Ford scenario, what the hell was it?"). And they worked hard in off-duty hours (drinking, police groupies) to live up to the image. On the job, they had more shootouts per month than most cops see in a lifetime, and they got crazier and crazier. Even war, thought one, made more sense than "seeking out armed men in the darkness"—the intimacy of it was terrifying. Ultimately they began beating up bandits they lacked cause to arrest, and not giving a damn about anyone or anything. (Manny to a bandit he's shot: "I hope you die of gangrene. . . . I hope it hurts like cancer.") When the bandits wised up and stayed on the Mexican side of the border, the BARFers ignored the international boundary, and an incident in which a Tijuana policeman was shot signaled the beginning of the end of the entire patrol experiment. Ironically, the BARF squad members paid the highest price: broken marriages, psychiatric problems, police careers that fizzled. "Maybe it would take a foreigner," Wambaugh suggests, "to know how typically American it was to thrust ten young men into a monstrous international dilemma with an implied mission to dramatize it." Tough, funny, and moving—with plenty of dead-on cop dialogue.

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 1983

ISBN: 0553763253

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1983

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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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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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