A pithy and unapologetic memoir, as much about the good times of war as the bad.

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Middle East Affairs

WAR ADVENTURES IN TOBRUK, EL ALAMEIN AND RIMINI

A World War II veteran recounts firsthand horrors on bloody battlefields and passionate liaisons in Middle Eastern nightclubs as a Grecian soldier.

Hadjifotiou’s (Games of Passion in Mykonos, 2015) life was interrupted by war, with Mussolini's invasion of Greece spurring him to leave home and join the fight against the Axis powers. He enlisted in the British army and found himself in the port city of Tobruk, Libya. Here, he was one of history’s famous “Desert Rats”—men who spent eight months of hell under siege by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s troops: “Thirty-five thousand wounded and several thousand dead.”  Hadjifotiou’s reputation as one of Tobruk’s heroes afforded him numerous promotions and military decorations. He was eventually assigned to pilot a crane named “Mac” to salvage Allied vehicles and save trapped soldiers. Between the siege and battles against German forces in both El Alamein, Egypt, and Rimini, Italy, he spent many of his nights with fellow soldiers acting out in the urbane nightclubs of Egypt, and later Beirut, seeking pleasure and luxury with alcohol and women. The author recalls his wartime adventures with a dry romanticism, never shying away from his experiences, be they vodka-fueled nights or hand-to-hand combat on the battlefield. Hadjifotiou is short-tempered and apolitical, prone to nostalgia in unexpected ways—the soldier recalls his crane with more sentimentality than his whirlwind marriage to a French general's daughter. When reunited with his lost love, Yuki Russell, a Jewish-American singer he met early in the war, his enthusiasm will likely seem shocking to some, as he seemed to have all but forgotten her before. There’s no sugarcoating these oddities, no rationalizations made for these arrogant or reckless turns any more than for the heroic ones. The closest the book comes to indemnifying the actions of any—from womanizing to looting—is to maintain that those who were not there cannot know. The autobiography is remarkably concise, perhaps to its detriment—it’s unlikely readers will feel transported to nightclubs or war zones with its minimalist approach.

A pithy and unapologetic memoir, as much about the good times of war as the bad.

Pub Date: Aug. 19, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Stergiou Limited

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

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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

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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