An affectionate final word on an inspiring man comes from his devoted wife.



This earnest memoir recalls a SWAT officer who lived and died for the greater good of his community.

Simmons’ book centers on her late husband, Randy Simmons, the first SWAT officer in Los Angeles Police Department history to be killed in the line of duty. The biography tenderly chronicles Randy’s devoutly Christian childhood in Brooklyn and LA, his years in college trying and failing to make the NFL draft, and finally his callings to become a police officer and marry Lisa, his “soul mate.” Together, they build a family and a rich life of community service, from Glory Kids, the church organization Randy launches (and Lisa assists with whether she wants to or not!) to help inner-city kids and families, to the volunteer SWAT efforts he dutifully signs on for. The hostage situation that kills him, which involves a mentally unstable man with a gun, is one such mission. The last quarter of the book describes the aftermath of his death, beginning with the planning of an internationally televised 10,000-person funeral. As Lisa explains to her heartbroken children: “People love your father because he was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.” This moving, well-written biography is as much a love story as it is an homage to Randy’s remarkable goodwill. Simmons describes their relationship with a lot of lightness and humor, adeptly developing the marriage itself as a character that we grow to love and that we miss when Randy’s gone. (Says Randy: “When was the last time y’all been to church?” Lisa replies: “Okay, Moses, you gonna lead the way?”) Understandably, Simmons does not criticize Randy or show him as anything but heroic. It’s only when Lisa is excluded from the police investigation surrounding the unsavory circumstances of Randy’s death that we see another, more nuanced dimension to the story; even then, a potentially gripping plotline seems stifled by Lisa’s loyalty to Randy, who would not have wanted the name of the LAPD tarnished. Nonetheless, it’s that same loyalty that lends real charm and depth to this intimate portrait of Randy Simmons, as well as of the LAPD as a whole, here given a warm, nuanced complexity and a representation rarely seen in the news.

An affectionate final word on an inspiring man comes from his devoted wife.

Pub Date: July 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475937060

Page Count: 342

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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 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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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.


Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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