An endlessly revealing look at the Nazi regime that touches on large issues and small details alike.


DOWNFALL: 1939-1945

German historian Ullrich completes his comprehensive biography of the man who is perhaps history’s most hated figure.

Adolf Hitler celebrated his 50th birthday on April 20, 1939, with a huge party. But even then, months before World War II began, writes the author, “Nemesis was knocking at his door.” Five birthdays followed until, hours after his 56th, he and the loyal though surprisingly impudent Eva Braun died by suicide. Ullrich has numerous concerns in this significant project, which, like the first installment, remains readable across its 800-plus pages. Far be it from finding excuses for his compatriots, he is unabashed in saying that “the Führer enjoyed the overwhelming support of the German populace, particularly after the Anschluss of Austria,” so much so that had he been assassinated, he would be remembered today as a brilliant leader. Indeed, Hitler himself said, “In the future there will never be a man who holds more authority than I do….But I can be killed at any time by a criminal or an idiot.” Another of the author’s goals is to supply the Holocaust with a precise chronology; he notes that Nazi leaders had made provisional plans to export Europe’s Jewish population to French-ruled Madagascar, which would become a German prison colony. This was a small mercy, however, since the Nazis figured that the Jews would quickly die in the tropical climate. Though “Hitler rarely missed an opportunity to scapegoat ‘the Jews’ as those pulling the strings behind the conflict,” the author argues that after the euthanasia of handicapped citizens as a kind of proof of conflict, the mass destruction of the Jews in areas of German control began piecemeal, with SS and police executions behind the front lines that only eventually became regularized in the concentration camps. Ordinary Germans knew about the killings, Ullrich maintains, but looked the other way. So did the Allied leaders for too long, he adds, faulting them for not stopping the mercurial Hitler while they had the chance.

An endlessly revealing look at the Nazi regime that touches on large issues and small details alike.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-101-87400-4

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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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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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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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


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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