Densely researched, swift-moving account full of fighting detail.

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HELL BEFORE BREAKFAST

AMERICA'S FIRST WAR CORRESPONDENTS MAKING HISTORY AND HEADLINES, FROM THE BATTLEFIELDS OF THE CIVIL WAR TO THE FAR REACHES OF THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE

Exploration of some of the unsung early war correspondents in New York and London who created the model for vivid prose and humanitarian alarm.

With the installation of a trans-Atlantic telegraph cable connecting America and Europe in 1858, the race for newsgathering took off, while the eruption of the Civil War shifted reader interest from local scandal to “the exclusive battle dispatch that could be issued in an extra edition and hawked on the street at great profit.” Patton (Patriot Pirates: The Privateer War for Freedom and Fortune in the American Revolution, 2008, etc.) captures the gritty, wild-eyed quality of trailblazing early newspapermen like John Russell Young, who made his name covering the Battle of Bull Run, and the Ohioan Januarius MacGahan, along with their exacting editors—only two women are featured: one is MacGahan’s comely Russian wife, the other a wealthy humanitarian widow, Emily Strangford, who met the reporter while setting out to help victims of Turkish-Bulgarian violence in 1876. All the New York newspapers—e.g., James Gordon Bennett’s Herald, Horace Greeley’s Tribune and Henry J. Raymond’s Times—competed with one another for the scoop, learning the value of “creating news instead of waiting to record it”—e.g., the Herald’s sending the rookie reporter Henry Morton Stanley to Central Africa in pursuit of the incommunicado missionary David Livingstone. MacGahan and other American expat correspondents in Paris stumbled on the Franco-Prussian War; he was horrified by the bloody insurrection, taking pains to characterize the violence fairly in his emotional dispatches for the Herald, for which he was highly praised. Another visionary correspondent was the extraordinarily talented artist and writer Frank Millet, who plunged into covering the Russian-Turkish War of 1877 by crisscrossing Central Asia during an era of difficult land travel and illustrating his essays with tremendously moving sketches of the bloodied and wounded. These correspondents became heroes of their time and doubled at times as capable explorers.

Densely researched, swift-moving account full of fighting detail.

Pub Date: April 29, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-307-37721-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2014

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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