The first collection in English of Schweitzer letters proves to be a smashing introduction to the life and work of the nonagenarian polymath (1875-1965). Schweitzer became a household name as a Bach scholar, theologian, medical missionary, and peace activist (he won the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize). All four careers lend shape to these letters- -some printed in their entirety, most abridged—chosen for their ability to reveal the ``context of Schweitzer's life and the directions he moved in.'' Understandably, the letters often center on their author's exhaustion, a state matched only by his enthusiasm. The very first entry locates in religion the source of Schweitzer's remarkable labors (``I have kept from marrying so that...I may be completely free to serve our Lord''); this spiritual passion kept him active until the end, as indicated by the very last words of his last letter: ``I am still interested in everything concerning Bach.'' In between, he wrote, always by hand, to hundreds of correspondents, including Martin Buber (``I want you to know that I have not forgotten you''), Romain Rolland, Max Planck, Albert Einstein (``Who would ever have thought that I, a decent theologian, would turn into a gambler and speculator in order to keep the hospital afloat?''), Thornton Wilder, Dag Hammarskjîld, Hermann Hesse (``growing flowers is impossible because of the freely grazing hospital goats''), Bertrand Russell, and John F. Kennedy (``I am writing to congratulate you and to thank you for having the vision and courage to initiate a policy of world peace''). As these excerpts hint, the letters are invariably charming, self-disclosing, and abuzz with moral intention. A priceless addition to the Schweitzer legacy; a posthumous gift to the world from a man who made every second count.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-02-607171-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1992

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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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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...


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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