A rip-roaring life rendered extremely well.

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IN EXTREMIS

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF THE WAR CORRESPONDENT MARIE COLVIN

British journalist Hilsum (Sandstorm: Libya in the Time of Revolution, 2012) builds on her personal experiences with reporting from war zones to relate the death-defying professional wanderings of Marie Colvin (1956-2012).

Colvin lost an eye while reporting the war in Sri Lanka, and she wore a patch for her remaining years. In 2012, while working in a deadly area of Syria, she was killed by an explosion. Thanks to journals, appointment diaries, and unpublished reporting notes that she took starting at age 13, Hilsum is able to portray Colvin in remarkable fullness. “She was the most admired war correspondent of our generation,” writes the author, “one whose personal life was scarred by conflict, too, and although I counted her as a friend, I understood so little about her.” By many indications, Colvin’s childhood on Long Island, her adolescence, and her early work life didn’t point to decades of dangerous work as a war correspondent. But from an early age, she also demonstrated an attraction to danger and hard living, including substance abuse and relationships with unstable men. Though some readers may pity Colvin for the life she chose, which included a periodic desire for motherhood that she never attained, most will view her life with great admiration. She was extremely loyal to friends and lovers, showed empathy for the dispossessed in war-torn, genocidal nations, and participated in unmatched global adventures. Hilsum skillfully explains the politics, economics, ethnic hatreds, and additional context of the nations where Colvin reported, with emphases on Libya, Chechnya, Zimbabwe, Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, and Syria. Mixed in with the globe-trotting, Colvin lived a complicated day-to-day life in both England and the United States, intervals explained with admirable detail and subtlety by the author, who draws on face-to-face interviews as well as the papers left behind by Colvin.

A rip-roaring life rendered extremely well.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-17559-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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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 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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