An adequate resource for readers new to this piece of the history of American journalism.




A history of McClure’s magazine, its publisher, and its most important contributor.

While employed on the editorial side of magazines and book publishing, Gorton began wondering about the motivations and interpersonal dynamics of writers and editors. When she discovered a century-old professional relationship between magazine publisher Samuel Sidney McClure and his star writer, Ida Minerva Tarbell, she began to conduct research for this book. Both born in 1857, McClure and Tarbell met in 1892 as he sought to hire her for the editorial staff of his nascent, eponymous monthly magazine. That magazine would become hugely successful from 1893 until about 1906, when internal and external forces caused a decline, leading to eventual closure. In Gorton’s wide-ranging book, the magazine does not make its debut until nearly 100 pages in. Before that, the author lays out a dual biography, alternating chapters between the two outsized personalities. While McClure was restless, Tarbell was steadier in nature. Gorton conducted primary documents research in archives filled with papers from McClure (mostly in Indiana) and Tarbell (mostly in Pennsylvania). The author also cites liberally from a previous McClure biography as well as two previous Tarbell biographies and her memoir, All in a Day’s Work, originally published in 1939. Tarbell’s fame rests largely on her accomplishments as a muckraking woman journalist in the male-dominated industry while McClure was well known for his ability to lead “by enthusiasm, rather than by example.” The best-known content—an exposé of Standard Oil Company and John D. Rockefeller researched and written by Tarbell—appeared in installments published between 1902 and 1904 and was later published in 1904 as The History of the Standard Oil Company. Though Gorton offers a sturdy portrait of Tarbell and McClure for a new generation of readers, much of the information she provides has already appeared in previous books and historical journals. The author variously refers to Tarbell as “Miss Tarbell,” “Ida Tarbell,” or simply “Ida,” which becomes distracting.

An adequate resource for readers new to this piece of the history of American journalism.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-279664-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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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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