A dense, thorough look at the failures and horrors of the first Iraq War.

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THE PERSIAN GULF WAR REVEALED

A scathing indictment of the United States’ efforts in the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War that uses Iraqi history to highlight what the author sees as the achievements of Saddam Hussein.

Gery’s debut, an exhaustive breakdown of the first major American war since Vietnam, takes issue with what he sees as the Western media’s image of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as a sadistic monster and petty madman. Instead, he recasts him as a heroic figure—a David who defeated the Goliath of the United States. The book delves deep into the history of the Middle East before the Gulf War, drawing parallels between Iraq’s military buildup and subsequent invasion of Kuwait and Israel’s growth in the region, whose actions, he says, were met with far less Western resistance. This inequity, Gery asserts, along with what he characterizes as heavy U.S. media control to sell the war and its success, suggests that the conflict wasn’t nearly as black and white as it was presented to the American people. The author’s in-depth analysis of the United States’ failures to dent Hussein’s forces during the war, despite multiple bombing campaigns, contrasts with Iraq’s successful, if brief, moves against Saudi Arabia and Israel. It depicts an American leadership that was unprepared for war and too willing to rely on unproven battlefield technology rather than skilled ground troops. The author makes a strong case that Hussein’s forces weren’t forcibly removed from Kuwait but rather beat a strategic retreat. Gery says that the Iraqi leader cemented his reputation in the Arab world by denying the United States any of its true goals, as he maintained much of his military and was neither assassinated nor deposed by his people. This book is filled to the brim with maps, charts, and numerous photos of locations and important figures in the war. Most impressively, the e-book edition takes great advantage of the digital format, offering links to newscasts, speeches, and battlefield videos currently available on YouTube and the C-SPAN website. Some of the book’s conclusions seem to overreach, and it doesn’t look as critically at Hussein’s moves as it does those of the United States, the United Nations, Israel, and others. Overall, though, it’s exceptionally well-cited, with more than 70 pages of notes and reference materials.

A dense, thorough look at the failures and horrors of the first Iraq War.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 1072

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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