A worthwhile, unique addition to the shelf of post–9/11 memoirs concerning the fight against terrorism.

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AMERICAN RADICAL

INSIDE THE WORLD OF AN UNDERCOVER MUSLIM FBI AGENT

The story of an Egyptian-born Muslim FBI agent’s undercover pursuit of Islamist extremists.

Elnoury—who co-wrote this book with Maurer, co-author of No Easy Day: The Autobiography of a Navy Seal: The Firsthand Account of the Mission that Killed Osama Bin Laden (2012)—is clearly aware of the complexities of his life’s mission. Although he was always drawn to law enforcement, spending years in undercover narcotics work in New Jersey, he notes that “Islam was something I practiced privately.” He was understandably outraged on 9/11. “I was angry, embarrassed, and hurt,” he writes. “Some asshole in a cave turned me and my family into the enemy.” The author volunteered his services as a culturally attuned Arabic speaker, realizing that “the FBI was waking up to a new war….They had to adapt to meet a new enemy.” Still, it took years for the FBI to recruit him. “They wanted to see if I could come close to passing the FBI Undercover School,” he writes, and he credits this intensive training with protecting him during his high-risk infiltrations. He developed a “legend” (or cover identity) as a wealthy real estate speculator who’d drifted toward extremism, first ensnaring an Afghan al-Qaida supporter, whose “confession had led to [a] drone strike.” Elnoury then began an elaborate penetration of a small cell determined to commit mass-casualty attacks in the U.S. and Canada. This complex international operation, which makes up much of the narrative arc, resulted in several successful prosecutions. The author reflects compellingly on the challenges of being a Muslim patriot, and he closes with a plea to resist wholesale bigotry: “Banning Muslims from the United States throws gas on the myth that the United States is at war with Islam.” His tale of infiltration is exciting and clearly written, although since he blurs the specifics of actual undercover tradecraft, his reconstructed, dialogue-heavy encounters with jihadist suspects are occasionally repetitive.

A worthwhile, unique addition to the shelf of post–9/11 memoirs concerning the fight against terrorism.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-98615-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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