Written with dignity and without rhetoric or undue emotion: when this author flays her feelings, it’s because she is utterly...

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DANCING WITH CUBA

A MEMOIR OF THE REVOLUTION

The momentous year in Cuba that transformed the author from dancer into one of the most charringly honest journalists at work today.

In New York City at the end of the 1960s, Mexican-born Guillermoprieto (The Heart That Bleeds, 1994, etc.) was studying modern dance—described in prose of revelatory fluidity—with Martha Graham. She then worked with Merce Cunningham, who threw a bucket of cold water on her prospects as a performer but offered her a chance to teach dance in Cuba. This opened up a whole new road, though it was not an easy one. At times the romance and emotion of post-revolutionary Cuba overwhelmed Guillermoprieto, leading to periods of confusion and despair, even suicidal tendencies. Cuba was a cauldron: she tasted the “fragile, vaporous elegance” of Havana, but she also experienced the horror of international politics, especially the war in Vietnam. “I was incurably altered by the consciousness of living in an obscene world. . . . Day by day I simply lost the logic of things and their pleasure.” Like many others, the author was seduced by the infectious decency of the revolution, admiring its attempt to (in the words of a Cuban friend) “transform this Yankee whorehouse into a real country.” Yet Guillermoprieto deplored the government’s suspicion of the arts and was repulsed by Che Guevara’s death wish. This lively, sharp history of the Cuban revolution also chronicles an intense personal confrontation: How will the author conduct her days? What lies in her future? Her prose has an odd and beautiful syncopation; it’s unhurried and trim, artistic without affection, on the alert to question and commend. Here are struck the sparks that will result in Guillermoprieto’s peerless reporting for the New Yorker and the New York Review of Books on the politics of Latin America.

Written with dignity and without rhetoric or undue emotion: when this author flays her feelings, it’s because she is utterly alive and in protest.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2004

ISBN: 0-375-42093-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2003

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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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