Though not without its anecdotal pleasures, much of Hurt’s memoir is serenely uneventful.

THE SKY IS THE LIMIT

FROM CLOD BUSTER TO CLOUD CHASER

A retired airman reflects on his decorated and varied career.

Growing up in rural Iowa, Hurt lived the typical life of a boy raised on a farm. He helped his father with daily chores, like planting and harvesting crops and caring for livestock—all before heading to school—and was fortunate enough to have industrious, thrifty parents that got by, if not prospered, during the Great Depression and Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Like most young boys, and especially boys of his generation, Hurt was fascinated with flying, and he longed to become a pilot. After briefly studying aeronautical engineering at Parks Air College, war broke out, and Hurt decided to immediately enlist. Dissuaded by his father, who had just purchased a significant addition to his farm, Hurt agreed to stay home for the summer to help farm the new land. This proved a crucial decision, as Hurt would suffer a severe ear infection that ultimately required surgery, disqualified him from being an air pilot and, somewhat serendipitously, deferred his draft until the war was already over. Upon his recovery, Hurt began several unsuccessful business ventures and decided in 1948 to enlist, hoping for pilot training in the Air Force. After passing subsequent exams and serving in Korea as a transport pilot, Hurt embarked on a lifelong career in aviation that began successfully in the Air Force, then shifted to commercial flight with the Federal Aviation Administration and United Airlines. With such a long and varied career, Hurt naturally has some harrowing stories of flight to tell, like the time he was almost sucked out of an open cockpit when his parachute malfunctioned, but most of his tales remind readers that even piloting an airplane can be as tedious as any desk job. Hurt’s passion for flying, however, is endearing, and one cannot help admire the fact that to celebrate his 90th birthday, he plans to sky-dive with his wife and sons.

Though not without its anecdotal pleasures, much of Hurt’s memoir is serenely uneventful. 

Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-1481181242

Page Count: 164

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2013

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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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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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