Manages to pump new life into some well-documented tales.

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THE LIFE OF RICHARD E. BYRD

A thorough, mostly partisan analysis of the great explorer’s life and work.

In ex-Navyman Rose’s second book on Byrd (the first, Assault on Eternity: Richard E. Byrd and the Exploration of Antarctica 1946–47, was published in 1980), the author attempts to both document Byrd’s life and deal with many of the criticisms directed at him. Rose (Power at Sea: The Breaking Storm, 1919–1945, 2006, etc.) begins by sketching Byrd’s adolescence. These passages contain a prescient example of a criticism that would continue to dog the explorer throughout his life—his capacity to exaggerate the truth when recalling his journeys—as Rose drags some truth out of the contradictions surrounding the tale of Byrd traveling across the globe alone at the tender age of 11. The bulk of the book is comprised of Byrd’s epic adventures. Details surrounding his controversial flight over the North Pole in 1926 (for which he earned the Medal of Honor) are among the most interesting, with Rose delivering a compelling case against the critics who scorned Byrd’s claims to have made this audacious trip. Byrd’s trans-Atlantic journey in 1927 also garners close attention, but it’s the thrilling recollections of his trips to Antarctica, many of which are based on the intrepid explorer’s own words, that really impress. Of particular interest is the five-month period in 1934 that Byrd spent in isolation manning a meteorological station, barely escaping with his life after suffering carbon-monoxide poisoning. Rose effectively captures the brutal conditions and the deterioration in his mental and physical health during this period, as he goes from writing eloquently about the aurora australis to barely recognizing himself as he looked in the mirror. The author makes no attempt to mask the rampant egotism and often impenetrably stubborn nature of his subject, but he generally expresses a clear affection for him throughout.

Manages to pump new life into some well-documented tales.

Pub Date: March 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8262-1782-0

Page Count: 540

Publisher: Univ. of Missouri

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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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 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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