If you thought the right wing was in a lather over Bill Ayres, wait until its talking heads get hold of this unapologetic...

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UNDERGROUND

MY LIFE WITH SDS AND THE WEATHERMEN

Provocative memoir by the antiwar activist best known for his role in the Columbia University occupation of 1968.

Rudd was a nice boy from New Jersey when he came to Columbia, but the war in Vietnam was raging and racial tensions were wound extremely tight. His trajectory was quick: He became an activist in and then leader of Students for a Democratic Society, whose sit-in strike and occupation of several university buildings were front-page news around the world—and proved to be ineluctably divisive. “Things were happening so fast by that point that I only dimly understood we had passed the point of no return,” Rudd writes of the occupation. That describes subsequent events too, including the increasing radicalization of SDS and its splintering to form, among other groups, the Weather Underground, committed to violent revolution. Once in, the Weathermen found, it was hard to get out; Rudd was reminded that “anyone who pulled out of the action would have to be ‘offed’ for the sake of security.” Around the time that a few unlucky Weathermen blew up themselves and a Greenwich Village townhouse while making bombs, Rudd went underground, fleeing various criminal charges, living as close to an anonymous life as possible, working factory and construction jobs, trying to keep a low profile and always fearing that he would be discovered. The author, who finally surrendered to authorities only to find most of the charges against him had gone cold or were dismissed by illegal government actions, made a life as a math teacher far from New York. Wistfully regretful about excesses and missteps, Rudd nonetheless insists, “I might have been wrong about a lot of things, but I’d been right in opposing the war and about the antiwar movement, which had played an important role in ending it.”

If you thought the right wing was in a lather over Bill Ayres, wait until its talking heads get hold of this unapologetic book, which deserves to be read and discussed.

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-147275-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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