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

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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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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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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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