A well-rendered account of one of the UN’s best in pursuit of “the flame of idealism that motivated many to strive to combat...

CHASING THE FLAME

SERGIO VIEIRA DE MELLO AND THE FIGHT TO SAVE THE WORLD

Biography of the handsome Brazilian intellectual who served as the UN’s top troubleshooter from East Timor and Bosnia to Iraq, where he died in a terrorist car bombing.

Pulitzer Prize–winner Power (Global Leadership/Harvard School of Government; “A Problem From Hell”: American and the Age of Genocide, 2002) draws on more than 400 interviews to offer this detailed portrait of charismatic Sergio Vieira de Mello (1948–2003), whom she first met in 1994 while working as a young reporter. A diplomat’s son, Sergio (as he was generally known) earned a doctorate in philosophy at the Sorbonne and took part in the Paris student revolt in May 1968. He joined the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 1969 and remained with the organization until his death. Writing with a keen understanding of international affairs, Power traces each step of Sergio’s career: early humanitarian postings in Sudan, Mozambique and Peru; his initial encounter with terrorism in 1981 as a UN political advisor in Lebanon; and later work in Hong Kong and Cambodia that made his reputation as a pragmatic negotiator. Power describes a man who was always learning, reaching out to everyone from taxi drivers to thugs in the belief that to resolve problems all must be heard. An elegant charmer in his starched shirts and tailored suits, Sergio was a ladies’ man who frequently bedded colleagues and a deeply loyal UN official who neglected his wife and two children. Power shows how his winning ways, knowledge of Kantian philosophy and deep regard for the dignity of both people and nations made him a force for change. Her description of failed attempts to rescue Sergio from the rubble of the UN’s quarters in Baghdad, where he was Secretary General Kofi Annan’s special representative, is both riveting and heartbreaking.

A well-rendered account of one of the UN’s best in pursuit of “the flame of idealism that motivated many to strive to combat injustice and that inspired the vulnerable to believe that help would soon come.”

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-59420-128-8

Page Count: 598

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2008

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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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