A brisk, panoramic view of peoples and lands.



From the Arctic Circle to Patagonia, an intrepid cyclist and doctor recounts an epic journey.

Physician and travel writer Fabes was working in a prestigious London hospital when, after a few years of rotating through departments, he faced the decision of choosing his own specialty. “I sensed a narrowing not just of my field of practice, but in my life and opportunities,” he writes in his vivid debut memoir. Nearing 30, he felt at a crossroads, impelled to seek “more space, more time, more risk.” Recalling a cycling trip with his brother down the coast of Chile, he decided to take a leave from medicine and embark on a rigorous adventure: cycling the length of six continents. The author’s animated report of his trip of more than 53,000 miles—and the crossing of “102 international borders”—highlights perils and drama: weather (monsoons, snow, hail, sandstorms, debilitating heat); wildlife, including antelopes, monkeys, and warthogs; insects (huge spiders, mosquitoes, leeches, a Peruvian giant centipede, fire ants, and “all manner of flying nasties”); a volcano belching out “thick plumes”; “cranky immigration officials”; and frequent damage to his trusty bike. Physical ailments often were severe, including boils, rashes, and dengue fever, a mosquito-borne virus that laid him low for 10 days and nearly killed him. When he wasn’t camped by roadsides, he spent nights in guesthouses, barns, schools, churches, and assorted rooms infested with fleas, bedbugs, or other vermin. Cycling confronted Fabes with evidence of oppression and exploitation, poverty and vulnerability; yet, invited to visit several clinics, he saw evidence, as well, of “connections, empathy and hope.” Overall, he admits, it was “the intense unpredictability of being outside in wild places that I treasured most, the various erratic, overlapping sensations I was left with: fear, despair, transcendence, solitude, weariness and awe. Upheavals of thought.”

A brisk, panoramic view of peoples and lands.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64313-195-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.


All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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