An account of a genuinely inspiring deed written as a breathless docudrama.

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DEVOTION

AN EPIC STORY OF HEROISM, FRIENDSHIP, AND SACRIFICE

The story of a mission over North Korea in 1950 when, in an almost suicidally brave gesture, a Navy pilot tried to pull his friend from burning wreckage.

Given the subjects—pilots Tom Hudner, white, and Jesse Brown, black—many authors would be tempted to write an inspiring story of racial tolerance, the brotherhood of warriors, and patriotic sacrifice. Journalist Makos (co-author: A Higher Call: An Incredible True Story of Combat and Chivalry in the War-Torn Skies of World War II, 2012) yields to that temptation, resulting in worshipful biographies of two men who overcame adversity to achieve their dreams as Navy pilots, bonded despite vastly different backgrounds, and risked their lives for freedom. The book, writes the author, is “an inspirational story of an unlikely friendship. It’s the tale of a white pilot from the country clubs of New England and a black pilot from a southern sharecropper’s shack forming a deep friendship in an era of racial hatred.” Brown died in his plane, and the author’s interviews with those who knew him turn up only good things. He endured humiliating racial persecution but excelled at school, worked his way through college, enlisted in the Navy, and became the first black carrier pilot. Raised in a prosperous Massachusetts family, Hudner had an easier time achieving his dream, but Makos’ portrait of him is equally admiring. Their final flight took place to support Marines trapped around the frozen Chosin Reservoir, and Makos detours regularly for shorter biographies of several who fought and suffered on the ground. For more than half the book, the author describes peacetime service of a naval band of brothers: training, camaraderie, horseplay, etc. There follows the stories of two months of ground-attack missions culminating in the action that won Hudner the Medal of Honor.

An account of a genuinely inspiring deed written as a breathless docudrama.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8041-7658-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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