Pederson visited her subject several times, and she draws a deeply nuanced portrait of the enigmatic, inspiring leader.



The long, hard road to “national reconciliation” wrought by Burmese national heroine Aung San Suu Kyi (b. 1945).

Dallas journalist Pederson (Writing/Southern Methodist Univ.; The Lost Apostle: Searching for the Truth About Junia, 2006, etc.) evokes the quiet, stubborn dignity of this rather improbable political icon of Myanmar, a multiethnic country of mostly Buddhists. The daughter of visionary war hero and founder Aung San, who had been brokering independence from Britain when he was assassinated by the Burmese military in 1947, Suu Kyi was largely drawn into politics by accident, more out of a sense of duty than personal political engagement. Pederson looks at the factors that led the martyr’s daughter, educated at Oxford University, married to British academic Michael Aris in 1971 and the mother of two sons, to return to her homeland after years away and take up the crusade for democracy. The 20-year military dictatorship of Gen. Ne Win had essentially ruined one of the most prosperous and literate nations in Southeast Asia, relegating it to the status of “basket case” by the spring of 1988, when Suu Kyi returned to care for her ailing mother just as student demonstrations began to erupt in response to economic oppression. Urged to take up the banner of democracy in the name of her father, she began to make her first speeches about the military crackdown, referring to her father’s assassination: “People have been saying I know nothing of Burmese politics. The trouble is, I know too much.” Harassment only fed her determination and popularity, and separation from her husband and sons did not deter her. Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, Suu Kyi could not claim it until the end of her house arrest 20 years later, thanks to international pressure by Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright, among others.

Pederson visited her subject several times, and she draws a deeply nuanced portrait of the enigmatic, inspiring leader.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-60598-667-8

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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 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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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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