A THOUSAND DAYS

JOHN F. KENNEDY IN THE WHITE HOUSE

This and Sorensen's Kennedy (p. 860) will continue to stand out long after the discussion of whether or not "instant history" is a valid, or even ethical, form. Schlesinger's book is much more intimate in tone than Sorensen's and its spiced word portraits of the men around Kennedy have drawn the heaviest fire based on the two pre-publication exposures in Life. Yet, it will be for these that future historians will thank him, while today's critics will read him avidly — and then decry him, from huff to howl. Schlesinger obviously did not labor in awe of his President; theirs were equal, atypical backgrounds and they shared many of the same intellectual and social contacts. The many quotations he attributes to Kennedy and his circle show a keen ear for the flash fire of political wit and a taste for invective that was likely to be suppressed in their public utterances. This helps close the distance that has inevitably increased between Kennedy the man and Kennedy the martyr. A Thousand Days is more than a 1000 pages long if you count the index and Schlesinger has isolated the personalities, the election, the Congressional record, the international crises and the domestic issues in long, speculative chapters. He was aware of and particularly good at estimating the Kennedy influence beyond the political. In the arts, American humor, and intellectual as well as general attitudes, the Kennedy style had something going and the author/historian is especially competent to trace it. If Sorensen is the better memorializer, Schlesinger is the better visualizer. Both have written that seldom book — the one you have to read and will probably want at home.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 1965

ISBN: 0618219277

Page Count: 1124

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1965

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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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