An occasionally enlightening study hampered by the author’s missteps.



A look at the road to the American Revolution from the perspectives of five patriots.

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, presided over by John Hancock, declared independence from Britain, prompting delegate John Adams to write to his wife, Abigail, that the “Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.” This moment provides a fitting conclusion to this book, in which Sankovitch (The Lowells of Massachusetts: An American Family, 2017, etc.) argues that Hancock, the Adamses, Josiah Quincy Jr., and Dorothy Quincy Hancock together “led the fight for liberty” that culminated in the Revolution. John Hancock, John Adams, and Edmund and Samuel Quincy were childhood companions, the “Boys from Braintree” who attended Harvard together. In the years following the French and Indian War, Hancock, Adams, and Josiah often collaborated in response to British Colonial policies. Hancock and Quincy worked on an official protest against the Stamp Act, Adams was Hancock’s defense counsel in the Liberty case, and Hancock and Quincy helped organize the Boston Tea Party. Sankovitch persuasively claims the importance of the somewhat forgotten Josiah, a brilliant lawyer who succumbed to tuberculosis in April 1775 at the age of 31. She is less convincing in asserting the significance of Abigail Smith Adams and Dorothy Quincy Hancock. The author also commits too many factual errors: The Puritans were not separatists. Thomas Hutchinson was not the governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay in August 1765. The committee charged with writing the Declaration of Independence consisted of five men, not six. John Adams was elected president in 1796, not 1797. Sankovitch also contradicts herself when she notes that Abigail Adams anticipated war with Britain (“inevitable, in her view”) after the Boston Tea Party only to write that she and others thought war was “still unthinkable” after that event.

An occasionally enlightening study hampered by the author’s missteps.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-16328-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?