A riveting glimpse of extraordinary measures; ethically speaking, the reader will be the judge.

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Single Harness©

A brief, between-the-lines memoir by a former government operative living with memories of covert missions he doesn’t talk about because he’s still sworn to secrecy.

Now approaching 70, debut author Gregory is, by his own account, the sole survivor of 18 elite special team members handpicked by the military and extensively trained in survival techniques, covert action and the lethal arts. Details of what he and his teammates Marlboro and DR did on these missions are necessarily vague, but they seem to have been carried out in the mid to late 1960s into the 1970s in Southeast Asia and in Central and South America. Between missions, Gregory—an Indiana native who dropped out of college to enlist at a time when the war in Vietnam was raging and many in his generation were doing everything they could to oppose it or avoid the draft—became a successful entrepreneur and worked variously as a salesman and business owner. He also emerges as a daredevil, a not-so-merry prankster and a fairly heavy social drinker able to make friends and decisions fast. At his core, though, is a single-harness loner most at home in the wilderness. A subtheme of the book is that it’s impossible to know whether the older guy quietly living next door once did extraordinary things; maybe you don’t really want to know. Readers are also asked to understand that, in Gregory’s case, these things were done for this country and always to the perceived benefit of people elsewhere trapped in horrific circumstances. “We knew without anyone saying it that we would be able to make a difference in the lives of people who no one else could help,” he writes. And if the job was done right, no one would know they had even been there. Gregory has no regrets, he says, but he goes to bed after 3 a.m. to avoid dreams of bad guys and memories of how they looked the moment they realized what was about to happen to them. He’s a strong writer, using Hemingway-esque terseness but also showing a fondness for jocular understatement that barely conceals the violence of which he is capable.

A riveting glimpse of extraordinary measures; ethically speaking, the reader will be the judge.

Pub Date: April 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1496900098

Page Count: 130

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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

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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