Bigger is not necessarily better, but there’s much to be enjoyed, and much to be learned, should readers take the long road...

READ REVIEW

UNVANQUISHED

JOSEPH PILSUDSKI, RESURRECTED POLAND, AND THE STRUGGLE FOR EASTERN EUROPE

Hetherington presents sweeping accounts of Polish history and Joseph Pilsudski, a major figure in the struggle for Polish independence.

Hetherington warrants praise for the thoroughness of his research and the consistently engaging quality of his prose. His ability to sift through the lion’s share of Polish history (from the country’s founding until the rise of its neighbor, Nazi Germany, in the 1930s), and interweave that history with the singular life of freedom fighter, and eventual dictator, Joseph Pilsudski, is a remarkable feat. The first and last sentences of the opening chapter, for example, form perfect bookends to a brief sketch of the Polish political scene of 1900 as well as the astonishing tale of Pilsudski’s escape from a Russian prison—“The Warsaw Citadel had the ominous reputation as the most escape proof of czarist prisons,” begins the story, while “The man who would liberate Poland was free,” brings that chapter to a satisfying end and sets the stage for the saga of Polish history that’s to come. That Hetherington should maintain control over his material and tell this grand tale with obvious narrative flair renders his book a doubly significant achievement. But the sheer scope of this ambitious work may prove an obstacle for readers. Weighing in at over 700 pages, Hetherington’s tome will test readers’ enthusiasm for Polish history. Reasonable minds may question the author’s assertion that it’s impossible to understand Pilsudski’s place in Polish history, and Poland’s place in the European landscape, without reaching as far back as the legendary beginning of a Polish kingdom and picking up the story in the 800s. Hetherington’s ability to entertain is considerable, and Pilsudski, who escaped from prisons, robbed Russian treasury trains and created his own Polish army, gives Hetherington a lot to work with. But it’s a long way from the time of the Goths to the height of Pilsudski’s influence in the early 20th century, and it’s hard to shake the suspicion that Hetherington has needlessly combined two books into one.

Bigger is not necessarily better, but there’s much to be enjoyed, and much to be learned, should readers take the long road to Pilsudski.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983656302

Page Count: 724

Publisher: Pingora

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2011

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.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

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

OPEN BOOK

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

Did you like this book?

more