An entertaining history of the movie industry’s tumultuous past.

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HOLLYWOOD GODFATHER

THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF BILLY WILKERSON

A cleareyed portrait of an irascible Hollywood power broker.

Drawing on scores of candid interviews, journalist and movie historian Wilkerson (One Person, One Vote, 2008, etc.) vividly recounts the life and career of his father, a powerful and controversial figure in Hollywood from the 1930s through the 1950s. Publisher of the Hollywood Reporter, William Wilkerson (1890-1962) could make or break reputations with one of his pointed editorials. With ties to organized crime, a lifelong addiction to gambling, and a mercurial temper, he was a man to be feared. He treated his six wives poorly, mercilessly mocked gay men, and repeatedly fired (and often impulsively rehired) his staff. Throughout his life, he “came to have three deep-seated hatreds: drunks, Communists, and people who stole from him.” Added to that list were studio moguls: “The studios could guarantee that their films would be screened, but before long Wilkerson had the power to dissuade audiences from seeing them.” Not content with being merely a publisher and editor, Billy was a restless entrepreneur, energized by challenges. “All his life Billy was in love with the impossible,” a friend of his noted. His projects included several restaurants—beginning with the Vendome, which became the place to go for a power lunch—and the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas, which got him entangled with Bugsy Siegel. When Siegel was on trial for murder, he had Billy’s elegant club, Ciro’s, deliver gourmet meals to his jail cell; but their relationship soured. Billy also became known as one of LA’s prominent “purveyors of vice,” owning a stake in supper clubs that hosted gambling casinos and kept prostitutes “on standby” for guests. In the late 1940s, Billy embarked on a zealous campaign to rout out communist influence in Hollywood. His “scathing editorials,” writes the author, inspired the House Un-American Activities Committee “to take dramatic action,” issuing subpoenas to scores of prominent Hollywood figures. A 300-car cortege assembled for Billy’s funeral in 1962; his many enemies pointedly stayed away.

An entertaining history of the movie industry’s tumultuous past.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61373-660-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Chicago Review Press

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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