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The Conflict that was a War; In Vietnam and at Home

Nineteen Vietnam veterans share their recollections of in-country time in Vietnam and their re-entrance into American society.

The 19 contributors to the collection met as members of a PTSD therapy group in Modesto, Calif. They open with a preface which neatly and succinctly delineates two of the major themes in the lives of those who fought in Vietnam: guerilla warfare, along with the paranoid mindset it engendered, and the routine hostility veterans encountered upon their return to America, where instead of being greeted as heroes, they were shunned and, in some cases, literally spat on. The majority of the men were infantrymen, and as such, they had a front-row seat for the horrors of combat. Dead bodies were a common sight, as were dismembered limbs. Many were forced to engage in hand-to-hand combat and to kill enemies in close proximity. Hollywood-worthy jungle terrors were in fact very real—poisonous cobras, spiders as a big as a man’s hand, triple-digit temperatures, stifling humidity—and an oppressive stench hung over everything. One man recounts the story of a soldier’s gruesome attack by a tiger. Another tells of a friend who, not wanting to complete another mission, willfully sticks his fingers into a fan in order to receive medical exemption. The sentiments of each veteran bear remarkable similarities. They don’t defend their actions and, while regretful, rarely apologize. They’re incredulous at the treatment they received at home since they did what their country asked of them (the specter of Agent Orange is the notable and frequent exception to their patriotic feelings). Some still seethe and are openly angry, but most are resigned. What’s left unexplored is how helpful the support-group meetings were for the men struggling with PTSD. It’s only natural, with the peculiar and extreme circumstances of Vietnam, that such a group would offer them solace. Perhaps that’s what led them to speak their minds here, as well as to state their final, selfless mission: to encourage this generation of Americans to treat the veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and all future wars with the respect and honor they deserve.

Open, honest, raw and readable. 

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477489420

Page Count: 218

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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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

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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

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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

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