A simultaneously sweeping and intimate family portrait.

READ REVIEW

WHAT YOU DID NOT TELL

A RUSSIAN PAST AND THE JOURNEY HOME

A family’s complicated past recounted in exacting detail.

Beginning with a long interview with his aging father, Mazower (History/Columbia Univ.; Governing the World: The History of an Idea, 2012, etc.) launched an investigation into his family’s history, mining letters, diaries, photographs, extensive archival material, and memoirs by some of the many individuals who touched his family’s life. Central to the story is the author’s paternal grandfather, Max, who had been a militant activist in pre-revolutionary Russia. As a member of the leftist Bund, Max strived for nothing less than “political transformation,” and he suffered the consequences of his beliefs: police surveillance, imprisonment in Siberia, and exile in Switzerland and Germany. “He had been on the run, arrested, and questioned many times over,” Mazower discovered, “and he had sacrificed the prospect of domesticity for the cause of socialism.” In 1909, however, he fled from persecution to seek a job in England as a salesman for a typewriter company. Although he traveled back to Russia in that capacity, he made a permanent home in London, where he married and where his children—including Mazower’s father—were born. Max and his wife were members of the “the turn-of-the-century Russian-Jewish intelligentsia,” who welcomed those who shared their “consuming interest in public questions and public activities.” No longer an activist, Max remained “still engaged, highly informed, and faithful” to socialist values. Mazower’s father also “found political engagement invigorating,” and his friends “tended to be joined under the banner of a higher purpose” even though he spent his career “as a middle manager in one sector of a vast multinational company.” His life, concludes the author, was marked by pragmatism, resilience, and “the pursuit of contentment and well-being.” Through dogged research, Mazower uncovered details about his father’s half brother and half sister, myriad other relatives, teachers, friends, acquaintances, classmates, and a host of individuals whose capsule biographies he duly reports. Although some—T.S. Eliot and Emma Goldman, for example—are well-known and many interesting, the sheer number becomes overwhelming.

A simultaneously sweeping and intimate family portrait.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59051-907-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more