A sinewy, stomach-twisting memoir that shows it takes more than a badge and gun to be a cop.

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OUT OF THE DARKNESS AND INTO THE BLUE

SURPRISING SECRETS, TACTICS, AND TRAINING CONCEPTS: A MEMOIR FROM ONE OF KALAMAZOO'S TOP COPS

A Michigan police officer recounts 25 years of nabbing suspects and terrifying life-or-death moments.

Christensen has seen enough danger for many lifetimes. His gritty, often shocking memoir describes the hazards and heroics of being a cop in Lawrence and Kalamazoo, Michigan, from 1988 to 2012. Always eager for difficult assignments, Christensen worked the most violent inner-city neighborhoods. As if this wasn’t perilous enough, Christensen also served as a firefighter, EMT and an Army Reserve soldier, once volunteering to go to Afghanistan as a combat adviser. The book opens with a graphic account of how, as a young officer, Christensen was badly beaten by a drunk driver. Though he managed to knock the suspect unconscious with a last-ditch knee strike to the face, the incident spurred a lifelong desire to improve his battle readiness. This desire would serve him well as he confronted nightmarish situations—encountering bullet-ridden murder victims, managing enraged rioters near Western Michigan University, delivering a baby in a hotel laundry room. Christensen is a gifted storyteller with a penchant for grisly details worthy of a detective novel. Once while assisting at the scene of a fatal car crash, Christensen helped remove bodies from the wreckage: “We simply placed three gut piles into three separate body bags. The backseat passenger was literally scraped off the back seat with gloved hands. There was nothing to pick up. I just scooped up guts in my hands and flung them into the body bag.” Christensen states he doesn’t intend his story to be an instructional guide, but there is a significant teaching component to the book. He offers tips for fellow officers on topics ranging from traffic-stop safety to career planning. More importantly, civilian readers will gain a deeper understanding of what police officers face. The danger cannot be overstated—more than 4,200 officers died in the line of duty during the author’s career. Christensen writes candidly about the emotional and psychological aspects of the job. His personal revelations shatter more than one stereotype about law enforcement.

A sinewy, stomach-twisting memoir that shows it takes more than a badge and gun to be a cop.

Pub Date: May 22, 2014

ISBN: 978-1495301056

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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