In the forest of quotations, Stewart still often eludes his pursuer.

ANGRY OPTIMIST

THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JON STEWART

A prolific biographer (Stephen King and Colbert are among her subjects) returns with a good-news/bad-news account of the career of the host of the Daily Show.

Rogak’s endnotes (One Big Happy Family: Heartwarming Stories of Animals Caring for One Another, 2013, etc.) indicate that virtually all of her many quotations come from previously published sources (she does mention a few phone interviews, though not with Stewart himself), so there’s kind of a highly competent term-paper feel throughout her breezy narrative. She begins by calling Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz in 1962) “a bundle of walking contradictions”—the principal one being the contrast between his very popular public self and his intensely private life. Those who know Stewart only in his current capacity will be surprised to learn about his chops as a high school trumpet player and his talent in soccer (he played for the College of William and Mary). Readers won’t be surprised to learn that he was a joker throughout his life; he was named the senior with the best sense of humor in his high school. Rogak follows his early struggles to become a professional comedian (his first appearance was less than auspicious) and his steady rise through the ranks of his competition (which included Ray Romano, Chris Rock and Louis C.K.), his early experiences on TV, his near misses for prestigious jobs, his arrival in 1999 at the Daily Show and its ensuing steady success. In the early chapters, the author is highly flattering; later, she quotes some tough things about Stewart from former employees who talk about the harsh work environment, Stewart’s temper and his failures to include many women on the staff. She also rehashes his media battles with Crossfire and Mad Money and mentions those who have left his show to succeed elsewhere (Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert). Rogak unearths just a bit about his personal life—a quiet, happy marriage and fatherhood.

In the forest of quotations, Stewart still often eludes his pursuer.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1250014443

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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