A singular study exhibiting both military duty and human compassion.

READ REVIEW

THE PRISONER IN HIS PALACE

SADDAM HUSSEIN, HIS AMERICAN GUARDS, AND WHAT HISTORY LEAVES UNSAID

An insider account of the last days guarding, and bonding with, the former president of Iraq.

A group of 12 American military policemen, deployed to Iraq in August 2006, made up the rotating squad that guarded Saddam Hussein over the course of five months in Baghdad while he was tried, convicted, and executed by hanging on Dec. 30. In this alternating account that moves among time periods delineating Hussein’s bloody history as Iraqi leader, as well as the back stories of many of the officers of the U.S. squad and prosecution team, journalist Bardenwerper, a former infantry officer in Iraq and Pentagon fellow, manages to portray a surprisingly sympathetic character in the former dictator. The Iraqi High Tribunal, housed in a former Baath Party headquarters building in Baghdad, had been established by the American victors and “modeled on UN war crimes tribunals.” Presided over by five Iraqi judges (the leading judge was a prominent Kurd) and stocked by many Shia who had been persecuted by Hussein over the years, the court chose to condemn him for crimes against humanity in the specific 1982 incident of a murderous crackdown of 148 Shiite residents in Dujail rather than for the more notorious chemical gas attacks against Iraqi Kurds during the Iran-Iraq War. At the time of the trial, the air of sectarian violence was rife in Iraq, and Hussein and his defense team—including American lawyer Ramsey Clark and Hussein’s daughter Raghad—were convinced it was a sham trial; Hussein vociferously protested the proceedings in court. Nonetheless, through the eyes of the young soldiers guarding him, the dictator presented as a bland, thoughtful old man who was fastidious in his habits, simple in his pleasures, fond of smoking his cigars in the sun, and discussing his memories with his captors. In skin-crawling detail, the author effectively captures a unique time and place in an engrossing history.

A singular study exhibiting both military duty and human compassion.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1783-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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.

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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

OPEN BOOK

The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

Did you like this book?

more