As complete a portrait of an elusive autocrat as can be expected.



A chilling look at the ascent of the current young prince of Saudi Arabia to first-in-line to succession.

Hubbard, the New York Times Beirut chief who has been reporting from the Middle East for more than a decade, is perfectly positioned to observe the rise of Mohammed bin Salman since the accession of his father to the role of king in 2015. Mohammed, the favored son though far from being the eldest, had stuck by his father’s side through his early years, eschewing a foreign education for a Saudi inculcation in the ways his father, then the governor of Riyadh Province, preferred. When his father became king, writes the author in this authoritative biographical picture, he put MBS in command of “the kingdom’s most important portfolios: defense, economy, religion and oil. Then, shoving aside older relatives, he became the crown prince, putting him next in line to the throne. His father remained the head of state, but it was clear that Prince Mohammed was the hands-on ruler, the kingdom’s overseer and CEO.” At first, some international leaders admired the prince as a “game-changer” in a sclerotic Saudi male hierarchy, young and unafraid to “defang” the dreaded religious police and lure investors. The mood had shifted by November 2017, however, when the young prince engineered the imprisonment of hundreds of the richest men in the country in the Ritz-Carlton of Riyadh and forcibly shook them down. Sentiment continued to turn with the Oct. 2, 2018, murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the most prominent critic of MBS and the royal family. “Khashoggi’s killing was a wake-up call,” writes Hubbard. “In a few weeks, it flushed away much of the goodwill and excitement that MBS had spent the last four years generating.” Throughout, the author, synthesizing information gleaned from hundreds of interviews, displays his impressive diligence as a journalist continually blocked by censorship and intimidation.

As complete a portrait of an elusive autocrat as can be expected.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2382-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Tim Duggan Books/Crown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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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

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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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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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