Though the kidnapping may have been unnecessary, Fermor loved adventure, and he recounts this one with heady enthusiasm.




The great travel writer recalls a daring mission during World War II.

In 1944, working as a British intelligence officer in Crete, Fermor (1915-2011) conceived a plan to kidnap a German general and spirit him away to Egypt for trial as a war criminal. The escapade, he was convinced, would demoralize the Nazi occupiers and raise the spirits of Crete’s resistance fighters. Fermor set his sights on Friedrich-Wilhelm Müller, “The Butcher of Crete,” but when Müller was transferred, he chose Heinrich Kreipe, a career soldier who, the author later discovered, was so disliked that the kidnapping was celebrated with champagne in the officers’ mess. The adventure was first chronicled by Fermor’s comrade Billy Moss, whose account, published in 1950, later was made into a movie. More than 15 years later, Fermor decided to write his own version, drawing on war reports he sent to the Special Operations Executive headquarters. Excerpts (comprising about a third of the reports) append the text, as does a guide to the abduction route for military history fans who want to put on sturdy walking boots and follow the rough terrain. By 1966, Fermor was a much-published and praised writer, and his talents certainly are evident in this colorfully rendered tale. The actual kidnapping took little more than a minute, during which the perpetrators stopped the general’s vehicle, pulled the officer out roughly, bound and manacled him, knocked out his driver, and erupted in a “delirious excess of cheers, hugs, slaps on the back.” Transporting their quarry across the island to the sea was more arduous and perilous, involving trekking across snow-covered mountains, hiding in caves, and eluding the enemy. Military historian Roderick Bailey (Target: Italy: The Secret War against Mussolini, 2014, etc.), who provides the foreword, reports coolly that the kidnapping was unnecessary: German morale was already low, and the war had turned in the Allies’ favor.

Though the kidnapping may have been unnecessary, Fermor loved adventure, and he recounts this one with heady enthusiasm.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59017-938-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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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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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 eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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