Bracing, eventful cop-talk memoir that’s politically in the Duck Dynasty neighborhood.

THE DUCK THEORY

Veteran LA police officer Rupp files his personal and highly opinionated report of a long career patrolling the region’s most violent ghettos and compromised precincts.

Like a drill instructor terrorizing cadets on their first day—which he has done—first-time author Rupp isn’t really all that bad, but he puts his political opinions right up front. In no fewer than 180 chapters, this memoir covers his decades as a lawman patrolling the roughest slum districts of Compton, Watts, Lynwood and South Central Los Angeles from the late 1960s to the ’90s, usually as part of the Sheriff’s Department, with a sideline in training new recruits. He loved the job, even when it put him in the center of protests, office back-stabbing and racially tinged “terrorism” by militants such as the Black Panthers. The writer despises the news media for stereotyping police brutality and turning criminals into victims. He has no sympathy for street gangs and their apologists; he refuses to identify the distinct “youth groups” by name, as that would show too much respect. He doesn’t care for behind-the-scenes power blocs, and he hates the hemp-heads pushing for marijuana legalization. He does support suspect profiling. The title references the adage that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, etc. Just replace “duck” with a shifty black youth in sagging pants with a gun stuck in the waistband when a robbery has just been committed, and you’ll get the picture. (“Check the unskewed stats,” he says.) However, Rupp says a lot of people won’t get the picture, and he offers the scoop that municipalities (Compton especially) have fudged crime stats. Some of his non-PC contrarianism is sublime: Rupp defends Michael Vick, since dogfights for sport are routine in the ’hood, and if that’s the worst thing Vick’s ever done, then he’s a much better man than most “thugs” recruited as pro athletes. Rupp’s youthful job apprenticeship as a meat-cutter helped him get through the gruesome stuff, but the memoir isn’t all heavy and horror. He describes going undercover to spook the “lingering transient homosexuals” out of an established gay neighborhood; his post-retirement bodyguarding for celebrities, including the Dixie Chicks; and on-the-job pranks as ritual hazing for superiors and cadets alike. Behind the name-calling, score-settling and tributes to fallen comrades, one senses that Rupp speaks truth when he says he doesn’t care what color people are as long as they act as responsible, respectful citizens. Though when it comes to liberals, he considers his mission “to irritate you and the rest of your kind.” So-called “effeminate lackeys” are especially likely to close this case.

Bracing, eventful cop-talk memoir that’s politically in the Duck Dynasty neighborhood.

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-1495427305

Page Count: 566

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

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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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