DARK SIDE OF FORTUNE

TRIUMPH AND SCANDAL IN THE LIFE OF OIL TYCOON EDWARD L. DOHENY

California historian Davis (Rivers in the Desert: William Mulholland and the Inventing of Los Angeles, 1993) revisits Teapot Dome, the cause cÇläbre that began in the time of Warren Harding, to tell the story of one of the scandal’s prominent actors, now largely forgotten. As the Gilded Age turned into the Jazz Age, Edward Doheny, hitherto a feckless prospector, peered into the La Brea tar pits and saw a fortune. He punched the first hole for oil in the city of Los Angeles. Successful, he turned to wildcat drilling in the jungles of Mexico. Gusher followed gusher and the shrewd Doheny became wonderfully rich, the master of a great mansion, a private railroad car, and all the accoutrements of great wealth. It was a world of puissant bigwigs, of powerful cronies, extravagantly mustachioed. It happened one day that the oilman transmitted $100,000 in cash to a cash-poor old crony, Albert Fall, who was then Harding’s secretary of the interior. He called it a loan. Just about the same time, the Department of the Interior granted Doheny’s company favorable leases in fields dedicated to naval oil reserves. Harry Sinclair, another oilman, obtained similar leases in a field known as Teapot Dome for its odd rock formation. When the deals came to light, a battle between conservationists and exploiters erupted. A Senate investigation turned the transactions into scandal, and civil and criminal trials followed. Fall took the Fifth, but was jailed anyway. Sinclair did time, too. Doheny, though, was found innocent of any criminality. His story and that of his family and friends is told expertly, though with a clearly sympathetic bias, while some questions remain (e.g., why was the “loan” made in cash?). Drawing on a new-found trove of Doheny’s personal correspondence, and well researched and narrated, this revisionist biography is an interesting addition to the social history of the times. (50 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-520-20292-9

Page Count: 440

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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