Exemplary and illuminating, even for readers well versed in Lincolniana.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

A fine, brief life of the Great Emancipator by the Australian novelist (Woman of the Inner Sea, 1993, etc.) and biographer (American Scoundrel, p. 31, etc.).

Keneally voices an antipodean appreciation for Lincoln as a child of the rough, violent frontier, a milieu that did much to forge his character and sorrowful countenance. (Lincoln once remarked to a journalist of his childhood, “ ‘The short and simple annals of the poor.’ That’s my life, and that’s all you or anyone else can make of it.”) From this setting, the author teases out little-reported data, including the fact that while serving in the frontier militia, Lincoln may have contracted syphilis from a prostitute, which led him to much subsequent worry about his fitness as a father—though not, as it no doubt would in the present political climate, to any public scandal. Keneally’s Lincoln is a man of extraordinary character built against extraordinary odds, but also a man of ordinary mortal failings, as fond of dirty jokes as he was of the works of Daniel Defoe and William Shakespeare. He emerges in these pages as nothing short of a hero, though a human one; this slim volume does not in any way resemble Carl Sandburg’s two-volume hagiography. Keneally conveys an informed understanding of just how controversial Lincoln was in his time (he writes, for instance, that the “house divided” speech ran the risk of killing Lincoln’s political career, which was salvaged largely by soundly showing up opponent Stephen Douglas in the barnstorming debates of 1858) and just how close he came to failure in attempting to restore the Union, which even Lincoln’s great admirer Horace Greeley was moved to call “our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying nation” during the reelection campaign of 1864. In short, his view of Lincoln is so fresh that one wishes only that the Penguin Lives format afforded Keneally room to say still more about this iconic leader.

Exemplary and illuminating, even for readers well versed in Lincolniana.

Pub Date: Dec. 30, 2002

ISBN: 0-670-03175-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 22

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more