An outstanding war story that could make a riveting film in the Saving Private Ryan vein.

THREE WISE MEN

A NAVY SEAL, A GREEN BERET, AND HOW THEIR MARINE BROTHER BECAME A WAR'S SOLE SURVIVOR

The moving tale of three brothers determined to fight for the U.S. after 9/11.

In this unforgettable narrative, we follow the close-knit Wise brothers, all of whom heard the call to serve and answered it: Jeremy as a Navy SEAL and then a CIA contractor; Ben as a sniper in the Army Green Berets; and Beau, the youngest and only survivor, as a Marine. Seized by the wave of patriotic fervor that swept the nation following the 9/11 attacks, the brothers were inspired by President George W. Bush’s declaration that the U.S. would defeat “every terrorist group of global reach.” To Beau, “President Bush’s speech was the moment 9/11 first felt like my generation’s Pearl Harbor. It also came with the sobering realization that at least one of my brothers—and many more men and women like them—would probably spend a significant portion of their adult lives at war.” Jeremy dropped out of medical school to enlist. “Those people trapped in the World Trade Center couldn’t fight back,” he said. “I can.” And fight he did: “As the calendar flipped to 2007, Jeremy was in firefights approximately three out of every five nights.” The book opens with a somber tone, at Jeremy’s funeral. Then another, as we see Beau bury Ben. Then the narrative flips back to the intertwined lives of these three heroes, following their careers, family lives, and deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a gripping read and an exemplary collaboration between a participant and a professional writer—Sileo has co-written other military memoirs, including Brothers Forever (2014) and 8 Seconds of Courage (2017). More than that, it's a consistently absorbing story of the 9/11 generation and of America’s response to global terror, a topic still relevant today.

An outstanding war story that could make a riveting film in the Saving Private Ryan vein.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-25344-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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