Given the author's previous reticence, fans of both bands will find this memoir revelatory.

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CHAPTER AND VERSE

NEW ORDER, JOY DIVISION AND ME

A reticent British rock star opens up—a little.

The transformation of Joy Division, an influential cult band, into New Order, a phenomenally popular institution, is one of the most intriguing success stories in all of rock. With the 1980 suicide of frontman Ian Curtis, Joy Division had appeared to be over. Yet the remaining three members stayed together and changed their name and musical direction. Since then, they sustained a level of accomplishment and fan loyalty that transcends generations and that is beyond the expectations of its members. No one is better positioned to tell this story than Sumner, the guitarist who shifted sideways into Curtis’ role as singer and who became the primary motivator in the shift into the electronic dance music that has made New Order a popular mainstay. Yet Sumner has never attracted the cult of personality that Curtis did, and he has been reluctant to reveal much of himself, even after his boyhood friend and longtime band mate Peter Hook left the group, charging Sumner with taking too much control and the other musicians with simply following the leader’s orders. “I’ve gone into great detail here in order to set the record straight,” writes Sumner, though Hook has a different story (see his 2013 book Unknown Pleasures), as even Sumner’s account finds him taking more responsibility for the musical creation and direction, and the other members of New Order rarely seem more than bit players. The author’s family life as an adult receives even less mention, except for an occasional reference to his children. But he’s particularly good on his own Dickensian childhood, raised by parents who suffered from severe health issues. As for the tonal shift in New Order, he writes, “our music had become so incredibly dark and cold, we really couldn’t get any darker or colder.” Thus the band that had prided itself on its homegrown musical direction was increasingly in the thrall of club beats.

Given the author's previous reticence, fans of both bands will find this memoir revelatory.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-07772-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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