As raw as an open wound and as truthful as it is terrible.


A Marine maimed in a war he had ceased to believe in comes home to a divided country indifferent to his sacrifice in this memoir that looks back with rancor.

Gaylord, the son of an Irish mother and an Indian father, grew up in grim poverty in southern Indiana in mid-20th-century America amid conditions reminiscent of backwoods life a century earlier. A good pair of shoes was beyond reckoning. He and his eight siblings too often went hungry. Home was a shack by the Ohio River or wherever his itinerant parents could afford the rent. Writing in a spare style befitting this stark beginning, Gaylord builds to a parade-ground ceremony in 1967 when, as a newly minted Marine, he was filled, for a bright shining moment, with deep pride in himself and his country. Not long after, he was deployed to Vietnam. There, he endured a haywire existence of search-and-destroy missions in the stifling jungle hunting an enemy rarely seen but skilled in deadly ambush. In progressively more profane language matching his growing aversion toward what he saw as a political war not worth dying in, Gaylord writes bitterly of longing to desert—though readers will doubt he ever would have—until June 1968, when he was severely wounded in an attack and lost both feet. After treatment at a succession of hospitals and facilities, some good and some bad, he was unceremoniously dumped back home and left to hobble painfully on ill-fitting prosthetics. At 19, he felt his life was ruined with nothing to show for it but a monthly pittance of government compensation. In rage and despair, he took to drink, came close to suicide, and at his nadir (here Gaylord seems to rush to a surprising and quick conclusion), he turned to prayer and gained redemption. Gaylord’s blunt honesty is beyond reproach, as is his effort to bring the awful plight of the disabled veteran before his readers. Even his liberal use of profanity seems fitting for this harsh tale.

As raw as an open wound and as truthful as it is terrible.

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2002

ISBN: 978-1403327352

Page Count: 160

Publisher: 1st Book Library

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 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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