An intimate trek into the venal world of art looting and selling.

THE ICON HUNTER

A REFUGEE'S QUEST TO RECLAIM HER NATION'S STOLEN HERITAGE

A Greek Cypriot refugee in the Netherlands chronicles her fierce determination to return stolen artifacts to her country through years of dangerous underworld operations.

Having fled her hometown of Famagusta, Cyprus, at age 14 with her family when the Turkish military invaded the country in 1974, Hadjitofi relocated to The Hague and became, in her early 20s, a businesswoman and honorary consul to her country. While there, she was approached by a Dutch art dealer with a special interest in Byzantine icons and religious paintings, many looted shamelessly from the hundreds of ancient churches located in the occupied area of Cyprus after the Turkish invasion. In this detailed narrative, rendered in occasionally stilted English, the author moves back and forth in time to give a sense of her life in Cyprus before the invasion among her intensely pious Christian community, and she shows how crucial to their religion these icons were. She re-creates the time she was first approached by the dealer, Michel Van Rijn, in 1988; he held out to her tantalizing possibilities of retrieving many sacred icons from Aydin Dikmen, a Turkish dealer with whom he maintained shadowy dealings. In return, she and her country would have to come up with staggering amounts of money. Over more than 10 years, Hadjitofi managed to use the highly volatile Van Rijn to get at Dikmen through an extensive undercover sting operation. Her adventures took her to Munich and London and Cyprus, and she effectively kept the police at bay to lure Dikmen into the trap and the ultimate discovery of priceless artifacts. The author’s work is also a personal memoir, not only of her life in Cyprus, but also of her struggles as a young woman trying to start a family and maintain her IT business, Octagon. Her journey is endearing, and she brings the plight of the Cypriots into sharper focus.

An intimate trek into the venal world of art looting and selling.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68177-323-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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