Although a bit dry in places, this is a rich, nuanced guide to a complex and tortured man.




A comprehensive biography of the philosopher who famously wrote that “God is dead!...And we have killed him.”

Novelist and biographer Prideaux (Strindberg: A Life, 2012, etc.) portrays the German author Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) as a writer desperately in search of an audience. His father was a Lutheran pastor, and Nietzsche believed he would become one, too. He was “unusually sensitive to music” and composed throughout his life. By the age of 12, he said, he started to “philosophise,” and he went on to become one of the youngest to receive a professorship at Basel University. Schopenhauer’s work was an early influence, but Richard Wagner, whom he first met in 1868, and his wife, Cosima—whom Nietzsche had a crush on—inspired him greatly. His closest female friend was his sister, Elisabeth. Prideaux chronicles in detail their often rocky relationship and how, after Nietzsche’s death, she rewrote his works, infusing them with her anti-Semitism, garnering Hitler’s enthusiastic approval. In 1872, Nietzsche published his first book, The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music, which Prideaux describes as an “impassioned attack on the cultural degeneration of his day.” She does a fine job of explaining how Nietzsche’s nihilistic philosophy developed, book after book—most self-published—while the texts grew briefer and more aphoristic. She dramatically reveals a man obsessed with writing. After finishing Twilight of the Idols, he began The Will to Power the next morning. Prideaux also describes in detail his lifelong battles with severe headaches and eye problems. Finally, there’s her sad figure of an itinerant man still writing and dejectedly carrying around with him his entire wardrobe of personal possessions. Prideaux notes that Nietzsche has appealed to an odd assortment of followers, from Thomas Mann, Albert Schweitzer, and James Joyce to Eugene O’Neill, Jack London, and Mussolini. What an irony, she writes, since Nietzsche “expressed his horror at the idea of having disciples.”

Although a bit dry in places, this is a rich, nuanced guide to a complex and tortured man.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6082-3

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Tim Duggan Books/Crown

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.


The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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