A fluid work that effectively honors a gentle, compassionate teacher and writer. A good choice for libraries and classrooms.



A handsomely illustrated look back at the remarkable journey of the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso (b. 1935).

Tethong has been part of the Dalai Lama's personal office since the author arrived in Dharamsala, where Gyatso was in exile, in 1963, and he has worked as the Dalai Lama’s translator and private secretary for four decades, retiring in 2006. The author offers a succinct history of Buddhism in Tibet up to the leader's exile in 1959 and the worldwide institutions and support he and his entourage have created since. Because he has been the Dalai Lama's constant companion, Tethong is able to document his prodigious work over the years—e.g., consistent political action, global travels and meetings with heads of state, and ambitious initiatives in education—all in service of garnering support for the Tibetan fight against China's authoritarian control. Via personal testimony and stunning, rarely seen photographs, Tethong chronicles the remarkable journey of a man who has led by example with kindness and empathy. Chosen by a search committee in 1939 when he was barely 4 years old, the boy and his extensive family relocated to Lhasa so he could be schooled and trained at the monastery. He was officially enthroned in 1940; with growing Chinese aggression by 1950, he was appointed the temporal leader of an embattled nation at age 15. The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize was only one affirmation of the world’s recognition of and admiration for his peaceful resistance to the occupation of Tibet. Tethong, obviously a great admirer of his subject, gushes that he has been voted one of the most respected world leaders—"an incredible feat for a Tibetan leader”—but the portrait doesn’t suffer from the author’s abundant enthusiasm.

A fluid work that effectively honors a gentle, compassionate teacher and writer. A good choice for libraries and classrooms.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62371-877-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Interlink

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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