The company line from a protective organization man: readers will learn little more than they would by reviewing the...

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CITY ROOM

A loving, extremely guarded memoir of the author’s 45 years with the New York Times, from durance vile to managing editor.

A son of the Bronx, Gelb appeared in the Times’ “raffish, freewheeling” city room in 1944 at the age of 20, a copy boy in a world of paste pots and scissors, bookies and cigars, Morse code and cable, a rough trade with its own caste system and clashing personalities. The best reporters, like Meyer Berger, awed him with their crisp curiosity, their obsession to probe, logically interpret and explain the facts, and their desire to imbue newspaper writing with style. The Times aimed to get the record straight and without prejudice; it was not a crusading paper, but a centrist one. But as Gelb took on the editor's mantle, first at the cultural desk and then as deputy metropolitan editor, reporters began to take a feistier approach: Gay Talese, David Halberstam, Neil Sheehan, were among those who shook the system until creative restlessness drove them from day-to-day journalism. Though hardly pugnacious, Gelb did help bring an “up-front, spontaneous style” to the paper, lest we forget the Pentagon papers or the Weekend section. The only slightly dirty laundry he washes is his prickly relationship with James Reston and a major put-down (recounted here with relish) inflicted on R.W. Apple by Homer Bigart. Gelb’s critiques of news and managerial misjudgments are bland to the point of why-bother: Of the paper's insensitivity to gays he writes, “I believe that on this issue, of such poignancy to so many, the paper did tarry for too long.” Still, under Gelb as managing editor, the Times entered the 20th century, kicking and screaming, with more black and female reporters and better coverage of African-Americans and women, even as hard news made room for soft features.

The company line from a protective organization man: readers will learn little more than they would by reviewing the microfiche.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2003

ISBN: 0-399-15075-7

Page Count: 672

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 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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