Heady, fruitful explorations of ill-charted terrain destined for a population explosion.

THE THIRD CHAPTER

PASSION, RISK, AND ADVENTURE IN THE TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AFTER 50

Insightful vignettes of people navigating the squirrelly years between 50 and 75.

Lawrence-Lightfoot (Education/Harvard Univ.; The Essential Conversation, 2003, etc.) profiles 40 individuals who had, by one measure or another, successful working lives and then took a new tack after age 50—voluntarily or not. They may be educated and financially secure, but they are also fragile and assailable in ways they haven’t experienced for many years as they make their way over foreign ground. They frequently find it discomfiting to be scrutinizing their identities and seeking to align their values with their actions, notes the author: “Something in us feels we are being irresponsible, or inappropriate, or maybe even unseemly, when we admit our lust for new learning,” especially when society assumes it’s time for them to be put out to pasture. Lawrence-Lightfoot’s investigation is anything but a dry, academic study. Her voice is by turns thoughtful, soothing and plaintive, as well as hungry for understanding what does and doesn’t work for these pilgrims. Standardized educational formats aren’t much help, she discovers; “school values and practices may distort organic learning across the life span, compromising and masking the impulses that might make us productive and creative learners.” It’s eye-opening to witness all the heavy lifting involved in these skirmishes with the new, including a lot of inefficiency and circling. (Happily, readers also learn that “old burdens become lighter.”) Tension, strangely enough, may prove crucial—not the kind of tension that leads to stress, but the kind that demands reconciliation between opposing forces or the charting of new scenarios by confronting ancient traumas. Other qualities worth having in your quiver: “openness, fearlessness, humility, and [the] capacity to look foolish.” It helps to be surrounded by a caring society—which is either the good news or the bad news, depending on your reservoir of another helpful virtue: hope.

Heady, fruitful explorations of ill-charted terrain destined for a population explosion.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-374-27549-5

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 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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