An urgent, necessary, stark exploration of “one of the most horrific violations that can happen to a human being.”



The executive director of Health and Wellness Services at Tufts University tells the intimate, powerful story of how attempting to bring her rapists to justice forged her dedication to activism.

The defining trauma of Bowdler’s life took place in Boston in the summer of 1984, when two men—self-confessed serial burglars—broke into her apartment and robbed and raped her. Even though there was ample evidence at the crime scene and Bowdler dutifully completed a rape kit with police, her case languished in the system. She received no answers from the detective assigned to her case—one of “a spate of break-in and rapes in the greater Boston area” during that summer—forcing her to endure years of personal and professional trauma. It’s exceedingly depressing that so much of this work portrays the author having to undergo the repeated judgment of others, including her family. Sharply encapsulating a victim’s dilemma, she writes, “decisions on whether to report are heavily socially informed—victims worry that the rape will not be considered important, that they will not be safe, that they won’t be believed, that the crime won’t be followed up on, and sometimes they see keeping the perpetrator out of trouble as self-preservation.” Indeed, as Bowdler notes, the “strong, self-assured woman of just a few days [before]” vanished with the rape, replaced by someone filled with shame and self-doubt. Divided into three parts—“A Memoir,” “An Investigation,” and “A Manifesto”—the author moves effectively among the personal and the political. She poignantly explains how watching the 1991 Anita Hill hearings (and witnessing the despicable reactions by male senators and media to her testimony) helped crystallize her activist mission, and she consistently shows herself to be a tireless advocate. Ultimately, she has learned to ask: If rape is considered a crime, why were there no investigations into her own? And when will anything change?

An urgent, necessary, stark exploration of “one of the most horrific violations that can happen to a human being.”

Pub Date: July 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-25563-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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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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