A masterful account of the beginnings of a unique man.

Sattin (The Gates of Africa: Death, Discovery, and the Search for Timbuktu, 2004, etc.) details the early years of the man who loved the Arabian people and determined to free them from Turkish rule.

As a young man, even before his years at Jesus College at Oxford, T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935) developed a love of all things medieval, especially knights and castles. In 1906, as an 18-year-old, he bicycled 2,400 miles through France seeking medieval churches and doing brass rubbings. Even at this young age, his strength of character was obvious. His intense gaze, obsessive concentration and photographic memory helped him become a man who would succeed in being accepted and admired by all those he met. In 1909, Lawrence journeyed to Syria to explore crusader castles and research his thesis, which was titled “Influence of the Crusades on European Military Architecture.” He walked everywhere in the area for the entire summer, felt he could never be English again, and only left when he was robbed and beaten. His mentor, D.G. Hogarth, Director of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, then led him into his happiest years, as an archaeologist. The author has explored and followed in the footsteps of Lawrence, and it shows in his deep understanding of his goals, why he did what he did and how he managed. Lawrence was assigned to the dig in Carchemish near the Euphrates searching for a method to reveal their cuneiform writings. He mastered Arabic and gained the respect of the natives, easily winning their appreciation through his abilities and fearlessness in the face of danger or hardship. Lawrence’s accomplishments in his youth are only the beginning of the legend, something he fiercely disdained; what he did after his 26th birthday is another story that readers hope Sattin will tackle.

A masterful account of the beginnings of a unique man.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0393242669

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014


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



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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