One of the great, nearly forgotten enigmas of English history, presented, more often than not, with verve. Still, even Henry...

THE PERFECT PRINCE

THE MYSTERY OF PERKIN WARBECK AND HIS QUEST FOR THE THRONE OF ENGLAND

A vivid, if overlong, biographical study of identity and deception in Tudor England.

In the gallery of the world’s grand impostors, the handsome, twentysomething young man who sought the English throne as Richard, Duke of York, may have been the most audacious. He claimed to be the son of King Edward IV and the younger of the two princes imprisoned in the Tower of London by their uncle, Richard III. Miraculously, he said, he survived a murder attempt and would now take back the throne from usurper Henry VII. Was it true? Although English opinion assumed the princes died, definitive evidence has not emerged to this day. Yet several key members of Europe’s royalty—including Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Emperor Maximilian, Charles VII of France, and Duchess Margaret of Burgundy—backed the “Duke of York.” After eight years in which he allied with James IV of Scotland and even invaded England three times, “Richard” was finally captured, confessed that he was Perkin Warbeck, the son of a Flemish boatman, and was hanged in 1499 as a common criminal. Economist senior editor Wroe (A Fool and His Money, 1995, etc.) sorts out Warbeck’s conflicting stories, as well as Henry’s shifting efforts to counter this phantom menace to his rule. Best of all, she fills in the margins of this scantily documented episode with intriguing analyses of 15th-century courting customs, fashions (wearing silk, at a time when no one below the rank of knight could wear it, bolstered Warbeck’s credibility), and, most crucially, a cultural atmosphere that encouraged make-believe. (“Navigators often did not know which country they were in, what adjoined it, where the rivers led, or what its nature was; but, not knowing, they pretended to.”)

One of the great, nearly forgotten enigmas of English history, presented, more often than not, with verve. Still, even Henry VIII—a more controversial and consequential figure—doesn’t always get such in-depth treatment.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2003

ISBN: 1-4000-6033-8

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2003

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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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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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