An adequate reference work, but short on the mystique that makes Eastwood such a compelling subject.

AMERICAN REBEL

THE LIFE OF CLINT EASTWOOD

The life and career of the ultimate Hollywood survivor.

Celebrity-bio vet Eliot (Reagan: The Hollywood Years, 2008, etc.) unpacks the legendary career of Clint Eastwood. The author provides scant details of Eastwood’s early life, noting his indifferent academic career and uneventful, middle-class upbringing. After a series of dead-end jobs, including a storied stint as a gas-station attendant, Eastwood, by dint of his angular good looks and strapping frame, slowly broke into the acting business, becoming a national celebrity playing cowboy Rowdy Yates on the long-running Rawhide TV series. His performance as Yates landed him the role of “The Man with No Name” in a series of seminal, operatic westerns directed by Sergio Leone. Eastwood attained worldwide iconic status as a deadly, laconic, grimly ironic prodigy of violence, further cemented by his series of ultraviolent turns as maverick cop Dirty Harry. Eliot declines to make detailed analyses of the films or the actor’s performances, focusing instead on the nuts and bolts of Eastwood’s preternaturally savvy careerist maneuvering and womanizing tendencies. Eastwood comes off as a rather cold, unpleasant character in these respects, using friendships and sexual dalliances to his advantage only to ruthlessly cut them off when they became inconvenient or tiresome. The autocratic star also made a habit of working with “weak” directors and co-stars to insure his dominance in his films. Eastwood’s directing career, including the Oscar-winning films Unforgiven (1992) and Million Dollar Baby (2004), is recounted respectfully, but again Eliot focuses on the negotiations and profits rather than elucidating his style. On the other hand, the author clearly and succinctly summarizes Eastwood’s political and cinematic careers, including the history of his production company, Malpaso. His take on Eastwood’s shabby treatment of longtime girlfriend and frequent co-star Sondra Locke betrays a measure of sympathy for her position absent in his description of the star’s (many) other indiscretions.

An adequate reference work, but short on the mystique that makes Eastwood such a compelling subject.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-307-33688-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2009

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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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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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