One can hardly imagine a finer boots-on-the-ground chronicle of this open-ended conflict, no matter how long it may last.

ONE BULLET AWAY

THE MAKING OF A MARINE OFFICER

From the front lines in the war on terror, a former Marine captain’s lucid account of his transformation from privileged college student to fighter in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fick, now a student at Harvard Business School and the Kennedy School of Government, intended to go to med school until flunking a chemistry class at Dartmouth persuaded him to major in classics. Feeling insufficiently challenged by both academics and athletics, he gravitated toward Officer Candidate School for an experience he hoped would be “more transformative. Something that might kill me—or leave me better, stronger, and more capable.” He gets it. A grueling summer of training is a mere prelude to more elite challenges, where Fick’s teachers push him past the point of consciousness, instruct him on how to suppress panic, avoid capture and resist torture. Eventually, he makes it to Recon, the Marines’ special operations force. To Fick’s credit, these sections are every bit as compelling as his recollections of putting his training into practice, whether in Afghanistan just weeks after 9/11, where he helped recover a downed Black Hawk helicopter, or Iraq, where on his order—“Light him up!”—his platoon fired on vehicles speeding toward them. Quoting Plutarch and Thucydides, Fick’s memoir is steeped in duty, honor and tradition. Moreover, his commitment to the soldiers in his charge is unwavering: He took 65 men to war and brought them all back. Sure to be compared to Anthony Swofford’s profane, self-loathing Jarhead, Fick’s account puts the Marines in a vastly more flattering light. Far more than a glory-soaked collection of war stories, this memoir proves the ideal of the scholar-soldier as alive and well.

One can hardly imagine a finer boots-on-the-ground chronicle of this open-ended conflict, no matter how long it may last.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-55613-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2005

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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