Far too wordy, but a worthwhile record of a dark and violent era.

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MY NINE LIVES

: UNCENSORED MEMOIRS OF A HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR

Panoramic memoir encompassing the Polish ghetto, the birth of Israel, bedroom tales and everything in between.

Neiger’s life story is certainly worth retelling. Born in a Polish Jewish ghetto in 1931, he grew up to witness the decimation of his community by the Nazis. His tales of massacres and of the inhumane treatment of individuals are chilling, and well worth recording for posterity. His contemplation of a dead body at his feet, his mother’s lucky escape from murder by a soldier over a mere loaf of bread and his own boyhood thoughts about what seemed to be impending death are among the devastating memories that must not be forgotten by current generations. The author’s family managed to flee Poland and he thereby escaped imprisonment in the concentration camps. After surviving the Holocaust, Neiger left for Palestine on the famed ship Exodus, and joined the Israeli army. He was wounded in battle in the Sinai, and provides a riveting account of his experience in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Eventually Neiger immigrated to the United States. While the author’s story is compelling, it’s also replete with unnecessary asides and ill-placed lascivious detours. The author’s active–if not overdeveloped–sex life dominates much of the book, such that most of the closing chapters are a mere laundry list of past affairs. (“My prostate was producing sperms at a lightening speed”). Given the book’s overarching themes, his talk of uncontrollable erections, foreplay with a cousin and even sexual dreams featuring his mother can be quite off-putting. Neiger admits that he is overly chatty, and the book reflects this tendency. It’s a heavy tome that could be pared down considerably by working on the overly conversational tone throughout. These flaws aside, society is better off for having the recollections of yet another Holocaust survivor recorded for the sake of our collective memory.

Far too wordy, but a worthwhile record of a dark and violent era.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2007

ISBN: 978-1-4257-7935-1

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2011

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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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