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SUZANNE'S CHILDREN

A DARING RESCUE IN NAZI PARIS

A page-turning account of the courageous actions of a woman recognized in 1985 by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.

Resurrected from obscurity, the life of a remarkable Brussels-born woman who used her prominent status in Nazi-occupied Paris to shelter orphaned Jewish children.

In a dogged work of research, Nelson (Red Orchestra: The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler, 2009, etc.), a playwright journalist who teaches at the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs, illuminates the brave and tragically short life of Suzanne Spaak, nee Lorge, whose dangerous work hiding and finding shelter for Jewish orphans during the war in Paris brought imprisonment and death in 1944. As the daughter of one of Belgium’s leading financiers, Spaak was in the right place when the Germans invaded in June 1940. Inhabiting a beautiful apartment in the Palais Royal full of artwork by the family’s protégé painter Renée Magritte, the Spaaks, though unofficially separated (her husband was living with another woman), were in a unique position to aid the Solidarité network, which provided aid to Jews being rounded up, arrested, and deported to concentration camps. It was Suzanne, however, who took her work helping with forged documents to a new and dangerous level, co-founding an organization called the National Movement Against Racism in 1941. Working with various churches, she and her colleagues knocked on doors to spread the word about the roundups, soliciting money from her rich friends and even her famous neighbor, Colette. In the many Paris orphanages, Jewish children were in constant danger of being rounded up, and Spaak did the underground work of creating papers for them and secreting them out to homes in the countryside. Spaak’s story is all the more poignant because of the role her own husband played in obscuring her legacy after the war, and Nelson does a valiant job of bringing together the complex threads of this story.

A page-turning account of the courageous actions of a woman recognized in 1985 by Yad Vashem as Righteous Among the Nations.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-0532-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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