A tenderly engaging saga of solid research and emotional connection.

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AVENUE OF SPIES

A TRUE STORY OF TERROR, ESPIONAGE, AND ONE AMERICAN FAMILY'S HEROIC RESISTANCE IN NAZI-OCCUPIED PARIS

The saga of a well-situated American doctor and his Swiss-born wife caught up in Resistance activity in occupied Paris.

Kershaw (The Liberator: One World War II Soldier's 500-Day Odyssey from the Beaches of Sicily to the Gates of Dachau, 2012, etc.) tells a sympathetic story of an American doctor at Neuilly-sur-Seine’s prestigious American Hospital in Paris, a veteran of World War I who married a Parisian and resolved, with her and their adolescent son, to stay in Paris and carry on when the Nazis arrived. Dr. Sumner Jackson was the chief surgeon of the American Hospital, a somewhat forbidding, short-tempered, enormously capable doctor who decided to stay in Paris when the Nazis invaded, mainly because his wife, Toquette, was so ardently opposed to living in America. Many of the other chief doctors at the hospital decamped (or committed suicide), but Jackson stayed on, making sure the hospital stayed full—he evacuated the French and protected the English and American POW patients by falsifying records—so that the Germans would not think to close it. Kershaw also depicts the tightening of the SS tentacles on life in Paris thanks to the impassioned work of Paris Gestapo chief Helmut “Bones” Knochen, who lodged on the chic Avenue Foch, where Jackson and his family also lived. The avenue, named for the hero of World War I who had shamed the vanquished Germans at Versailles—an irony not lost on the occupiers—became the locus of Nazi power in Paris and was thus attractive to the leaders of the Resistance, who enlisted Toquette to use the family’s place as a spy drop. Famine, patriotism, collaboration, deportation—Kershaw portrays the suspense and terror of this time in the plight of one well-intentioned American-French family caught up in the horror.

A tenderly engaging saga of solid research and emotional connection.

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8041-4003-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 13, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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