A gritty and somber chronicle of an often overlooked community.

THE COMPTON COWBOYS

THE NEW GENERATION OF COWBOYS IN AMERICA'S URBAN HEARTLAND

A year in the lives of 10 inner-city men fighting to keep black cowboy culture alive and well even as their personal lives are in disarray.

By the time New York Times reporter Thompson-Hernández caught up with them, the Los Angeles–based Compton Cowboys seemed to be experiencing a wishful and elegiac pall. The equine outpost, which had always served as refuge and home away from home throughout the crew’s often tumultuous and traumatized childhoods, was in dire straits. Mayisha Akbar, the indomitable force of nature who founded the Compton Junior Posse in 1988, was heading toward retirement, and the big-money donors that had kept the expensive operation afloat were slowly disappearing. The mantle of ranch leadership was about to shift to Randy, Mayisha’s nephew. While Randy understood what was required to allow the group to blaze a new trail into the future, the stakes were high: keeping alive the legacy and heritage of men like Nat Love and Bill Pickett, real-life black cowboys who, despite Hollywood’s whitewashing of history, were integral in establishing what became known as the Wild West. However, regardless of their determination to pass down the black cowboy tradition to the next generation of new riders, the CJP members had to cope with the daily realities of life on the gang-scarred streets of Compton. In his intimate yet sober-eyed narrative, Thompson-Hernández never shies away from those realities. All of the Compton Cowboys, to some degree, have struggled with the PTSD associated with the neighborhood's dangerous landscape. Across the board, there continues to be unresolved anger and alcoholism, self-doubt and trepidation. Describing Mayisha’s retirement party, the author writes, “the future of the ranch was uncertain and everyone in attendance looked at the cowboys for answers that they did not have.” The author’s fondness and respect for the CJP crew is consistently patent (only occasionally overly so), and he tells their story straight, no matter how much it hurts.

A gritty and somber chronicle of an often overlooked community.

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-291060-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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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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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