Jews, Muslims and Christians alike may take offense to Hazleton’s contribution to plurality.

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JEZEBEL

THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE BIBLE’S HARLOT QUEEN

A dogged defense of one of the Bible’s most controversial characters, used to grind a few axes.

Hazleton (Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother, 2004 , etc.) aims to peel back centuries of slander and misconception about the character of Jezebel, utilizing modern archeological evidence, textual criticism and her own Mid-East experience. However, she leaps beyond the realm of biblical criticism to create a character all her own. The author’s Jezebel is a beautiful, proud, cosmopolitan queen, a model of civility set against the rugged milieu of backwater Israel. She is also virtually guiltless, her only fault apparently being a well-earned arrogance as the worldly queen of the uncouth. Hazleton presents Jezebel in such a light largely to juxtapose her to her arch-enemy, the prophet Elijah—who the author palpably, almost viciously, disdains. But Hazleton’s rehabilitation of Jezebel is a secondary aim. Her main theme is what she sees as an ageless struggle between civilized plurality and tolerance on one hand, and destructive fundamentalism on the other. Elijah—who she compares to both al-Qaeda operative al-Zawahiri and Yigal Amir, Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin—is squarely in the fundamentalist camp. The prophet, described as “downright feral,” is the antithesis of Hazleton’s Jezebel, who understood tolerance and statecraft and stood almost alone in ancient Israel against “fanaticism and intolerance.” The implications for today are obvious: “Elijah issues the classic challenge, heard everywhere from Islamist madrasas and hard-line yeshivas to evangelical seminaries: you’re one of us, or one of them.” The author’s attempt to resurrect the reputation of Jezebel is certainly hindered by her own heavy-handed rhetoric. She argues correctly that Jezebel’s name has been used (and misused) throughout time for the purposes of advancing separate arguments. But with this book, she does exactly that.

Jews, Muslims and Christians alike may take offense to Hazleton’s contribution to plurality.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-51614-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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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 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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