A helpful resource for those curious about the climate-change fights, this work delivers a readable account of a weighty...

THE GREAT PLANET CON

ENVIRONMENTAL TRUTHINESS IN THE AGE OF TRUMP

A debut environmental book examines the global-warming crisis in the age of Donald Trump.

Produced amid the environmental catastrophes of 2018—including a disastrous wildfire season, extreme heat records, and devastating hurricanes—this work presents a brisk walk-through of the ecological calamities, from declining biodiversity to the dangers of fracking. Written in a matter-of-fact style, the volume promises to “sort through the current condition of Earth as assessed by various global monitoring systems and organizations” and “discuss the major environmental problems facing our planet and its inhabitants.” Burns successfully offers a thorough, well-researched account of the impact of climate change and the political struggles in the Trump era, from Scott Pruitt’s reign over the EPA to the impact of Koch brothers–funded misinformation campaigns. The author intersperses her brief history of global warming and exploration of the present political situation with an impressive selection of quotations from sources ranging from 350.org founder Bill McKibben and Greenpeace to Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. One chapter takes a deep dive into Trump’s Twitter archive, cataloging his climate-related tweets, from his disdain of clean energy to his love of coal. Other chapters provide brief descriptions of environmental groups and their advocacy work. Burns, who is a nurse, cites a wide array of ongoing litigation—like a complaint in a California court in response to the “Trump administration’s repeal of a 2015 Bureau of Land Management rule that set up fracking safety and oversight standards.” Unfortunately, the author spends too much time summarizing other writings without supplying enough analysis that is substantially new. It is refreshing, then, when Burns writes more personally, as when she recalls her experiences with pollution in Chicago (“I knew we were getting close to the Windy City when the smell changed to something toxic”) and shares her understanding of the public health issues relating to global warming (“I may be better versed in anatomy than I am in atmospheric science, but it’s still an easy line for me to draw from climate change to human health”).

A helpful resource for those curious about the climate-change fights, this work delivers a readable account of a weighty subject.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 890

Publisher: Skydeck Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 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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