As entertaining and shocking as one would hope for, but the book leaves readers with more questions than answers.

BEING BERLUSCONI

THE RISE AND FALL FROM COSA NOSTRA TO BUNGA BUNGA

In the first comprehensive examination of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s life and career, Independent Italy correspondent Day paints a lively but noncomplex picture of an ambitious and deeply flawed man in a system that accommodated his numerous vices.

Berlusconi’s rise is a fascinating story that reads straight from a tabloid, littered with corrupt politicians, shady dealings, and women who emerge more as caricatures than real people. The author ably brings to light the various avenues by which Berlusconi first made his fortune and later made Italy his playground through self-serving legislation. With such rich fodder and his experience for nearly a decade as a journalist in Italy, it’s not surprising he is able to do so. However, Day vacillates between treating Berlusconi’s antics as a political sideshow and exposing them as a true threat to Italy’s political system. When the author does turn to his subject’s legacy, highlighting the extensive damage he did to the country’s culture and reputation, it reads more like an afterthought than a legitimate meditation. Day gives great attention to the sex scandals that made Berlusconi an international joke, but he focuses less on exploring the system within which Berlusconi existed. Leaps between his roles as an entrepreneur and a politician and between investigations and public scandals feel jarring, as the author gives too little context. In other instances, however, Day provides too much detail—e.g., the minibiography of one of the young girls whose relationship with Berlusconi eventually brought about the political titan’s downfall. Although the author explains the many whats of Berlusconi’s long career, he largely neglects the more intricate questions of how. In so doing, he makes Italy seem more like a bit player than the stage in Berlusconi’s circus.

As entertaining and shocking as one would hope for, but the book leaves readers with more questions than answers.

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-137-28004-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015

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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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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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