Friday, November 4, 2011

Study the human condition @ your library

All That Is Bitter and Sweet by Ashley Judd

Kirkus Reviews -

With the assistance of co-author Vollers (Lone Wolf: Eric Rudolph: Murder, Myth, and the Pursuit of an American Outlaw, 2006, etc.), actress Judd delivers a keenly felt memoir of a dysfunctional upbringing twined with an adult life of progressive social advocacy.

Some wag once said that the Judd family put the "fun" in dysfunctional, but Ashley remembers the turbulence rather differently, as "a family full of hatred, fighting, accusation, manipulation, abandonment, and emotional and physical abuse," with everything "from depression, suicide, alcoholism, and compulsive gambling to incest and suspected murder. Judd examines her difficult history, braiding it with her current days as a committed activist for human rights. Though she calls readers' attention to her movie-star status as she rubs humanitarian-circuit shoulders with Bono, Juanes ("the Colombian rock superstar") and Bollywood's Akshay Kumar ("the Indian equivalent of Will Smith or Bruce Willis, but with a fan base of a billion people"), she also comes across as a piercingly effective global ambassador for Population Services International, tackling issues of reproductive health and child survival. At first, she was undone by her visits to third-world brothels, but she eventually realized that her own sexual abuse was causing the over-identification, subverting her agenda. "I understand the urge to rescue everybody," says her PSI boss, "but that's not how it works. PSI is not a rescue organization. We are a public health organization." The author writes with a sure hand of the many difficult themes she addresses: her journey of emotional recovery (a fine chapter on her rehab for codependency and depression), her spiritual quest, finding the humanity in the sexual perpetrators and making tangible her toils for social justice. Judd is also a solid painter of place, from the most squalid sex factory to the rural sweetness of her Tennessee home.

A passionate reminder of the breathtaking misery of so many lives, and one woman's work in their service.

In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir by Dick Cheney with Liz Cheney

From Barnes & Noble -
He's been called a great American patriot and the spawn of the devil, but whatever your views on Dick Cheney, you can't ignore the influence this former Vice President, U.S. Senator, and Republican administration official has had on government policy and world affairs. In this personal and political memoir, this ever-outspoken politician and statesman delivers candid opinions on Iraq, the economy, and other political controversies.

A Stolen Life: A Memoir by Jaycee Dugard

The Washington Post - Petula Dvorak
It's a tough read. But work through it, and you'll find more than the stomach-churning details that make you put it down the first night. This little memoir…was written plainly and simply by Dugard herself, without the help of a ghostwriter. And in that, it is powerful beyond its voyeurism…reading the experience in her own words is a revelation. It allows us to understand who [Dugard] was before she was snatched and how Garrido controlled her.

Nothing to Lose, Everything to Gain: How I Went from Gang Member to Multimillionaire Entrepreneur by Ryan Blair

Publishers Weekly -

Bad boy makes good in this energetically recounted rags-to-riches success story. Blair's placid middle-class family was abruptly disrupted when his father became hooked on drugs and abandoned the family. Blair got involved with a gang, and had multiple and violent run-ins with the law, but salvation came in the form of a successful and encouraging stepfather, who started him working and became his first real mentor. The survival instincts he earned in his scrappy adolescence became his greatest asset as he created his first company, and Blair tells the story of his rise to success in the hopes that readers might benefit from his philosophies, from the jail cell to the boardroom. His failures and successes, along with a little input from his gurus, coupled with his solid commonsense advice and entrepreneurial life lessons offer an inspiring and helpful story. Readers will find the "nothing-to-lose" mindset and his optimistic, do-anything attitude both charming and encouraging. 

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