An inspiring example of the power of determination.

EVERY DAY IS A GIFT

A MEMOIR

Heartfelt memoir from the senator and Iraq War veteran.

Duckworth was born in Thailand in 1968, the biracial daughter of an enlisted American-born father and Thai-Chinese mother. As a child, she struggled with feeling “self-conscious about being different.” Her family also relocated frequently, which contributed to feelings of uncertainty about her future. In 1984, they moved to Hawaii. Due to her family’s financial situation, Duckworth held down numerous jobs while finishing high school. Although her life was stressful, she never gave up and was accepted to the University of Hawaii, where she got a bachelor’s degree in political science. “With all the moving around we’d done,” she writes, “and seeing up close the work my dad did with United Nations programs, I had developed a fascination with international affairs.” After earning her master’s degree in international affairs from George Washington University, she joined the Army ROTC and “fell for the Army like no one ever fell for the Army before.” Though she began a doctorate program, she interrupted her studies to serve (she later completed her Ph.D.). Defying the odds, she became one of the few female pilots to fly a Black Hawk helicopter. In 2004, while on a mission in Iraq, her “world exploded” when a rocket-propelled grenade hit her helicopter and “detonated in a violent fireball right in my lap.” She lost both legs and severely injured her right arm. During her long recovery, she met Sen. Dick Durbin and shared her thoughts about the desperate changes needed for women in the military, veterans, and their families. Durbin encouraged Duckworth to run for Congress. Feeling “a responsibility to be a voice for…young warriors,” she became an advocate for veterans and held numerous public offices before becoming a senator in 2016. Despite the scars of discrimination, poverty, and war, her commitment to the service of others has never wavered, and her moving story demonstrates that “healing is always possible, and that the low moments can lead to the greatest heights.”

An inspiring example of the power of determination.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1850-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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

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GREENLIGHTS

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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