A fascinating revisiting of Cold War estrangements.

THE HAWK AND THE DOVE

PAUL NITZE, GEORGE KENNAN, AND THE HISTORY OF THE COLD WAR

A gently critical assessment of two influential shapers of U.S. foreign policy, hawk Paul Nitze (1907–2004) and dove George Kennan (1904–2005).

Wired editor Thompson—Nitze’s grandson—transitions eloquently between his two portraits. Kennan was the urbane writer from Milwaukee who cut his teeth at the American embassy in Moscow at the end of World War II, and warned early on about the need for a policy of “long-term, patient but firm and vigilant containment of Russian expansive tendencies.” Nitze was the Wall Street upstart who started at the Defense Department under FDR assistant James Forrestal in 1940. Despite surveying firsthand the devastation of Hiroshima, he would propagate the buildup of the nuclear arsenal to match the Soviet threat during the next 40 years. Kennan first hired Nitze as his deputy at the Policy Planning staff, attempting to figure out how to implement a plan to resurrect the economies of Europe and draw them closer to America. Though they initially agreed on a hard-line approach to the Soviet threat, they began to drift apart on the hydrogen-bomb debate. Kennan warned against the “resource-devouring arms race,” but Nitze’s alarmist strategies won the day, convincing President Truman to pursue the bomb. During subsequent events in Korea, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam, the SALT talks, glasnost and the fall of the Berlin Wall, both men would play key roles, either as the bruising insider (Nitze) or diplomatic outsider (Kennan). Both made mistakes and vast turnarounds. Kennan testified against pursuing the war in Vietnam, yet worked with the FBI to track student demonstrators; Nitze alienated President Carter’s SALT team by his hawkishness, yet admitted as an elder in 1999 that he saw “no compelling reason why we should not unilaterally get rid of our nuclear weapons.” While ably portraying the unlikely friendship between the two men, Thompson doesn’t take sides, but rather adheres to a respectful historic distance.

A fascinating revisiting of Cold War estrangements.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8142-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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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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