Readers interested in African history or cardiac medicine will find this atmospheric, meticulously detailed personal opus...

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FEATHER ON THE 'WIND OF CHANGE'

SAFARIS, SURGERY AND STENTGRAFTS

A debut autobiography chronicles the diverse life of an esteemed medical pioneer.   

Lawrence-Brown, an innovative western Australia vascular surgeon, grew up in East Africa in a time demarcated by Harold Macmillan’s “Wind of Change” speech signaling great upheaval in the British Empire. It was a time that heralded independence and republic change for countries like Kenya, where the author was born to a charismatic, fourth-generation colonial father who became a professional safari guide. The author’s mother was a former British navy veteran who felt lonely once her husband’s business blossomed thanks to the postwar economy and an influx of American tourists. Readers will get a proper history lesson on the region as Lawrence-Brown writes descriptively and authoritatively about local unrest due to rebellions against the British colonial regime and the many moves he and his family made to achieve safety and a quality education for him. The author’s exhaustive, predominantly anecdotal memoir moves smoothly through time to boarding school, high school with its strict rules, boyhood adventures climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and going on safaris, and the political turmoil leading to the end of Britain’s colonial rule that crushed his aspirations of studying overseas. Lawrence-Brown eventually went to Australia in 1965, seeking to further his education in surgical medicine, which became sandwiched between navigating a tricky new culture and dating and embracing commingled “flat life.” After years of creatively documented medical school study, the author writes proudly of finding his footing in surgical and vascular medicine: “I still wanted the bright lights of real surgery, and my path was set.” Lawrence-Brown ultimately gained great renown for inventive and groundbreaking research and clinical development, and he eventually married, though a medical scare found him in the operating theater as a patient. The author is most at home sharing the many anecdotes that proved formative in the shaping of his adolescent character as well as those integral to his success as a visionary surgeon working with the human aorta. With vivid characterization, florid prose, and dramatic flair, Lawrence-Brown offers stories of how helping ailing people became the cornerstone for many of his actions up to and including his development of the revolutionary stent graft for abdominal aortic aneurysms.

Readers interested in African history or cardiac medicine will find this atmospheric, meticulously detailed personal opus enticing, vastly informative, and entertaining.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984502-43-8

Page Count: 506

Publisher: XlibrisAU

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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