Biography & Memoir Book Reviews

THE REBEL OF RANGOON by Delphine Schrank
Released: July 14, 2015

"A remarkable chronicle of a multigenerational struggle in Burma bringing about important change."
A dogged journalist penetrates the deeply secretive dissident underground in Burma's police state in this compelling look into a traumatized society in flux. Read full book review >
GENGHIS KHAN by Frank McLynn
Released: July 14, 2015

"Thoroughly researched, grim, grisly, and sometimes even grudgingly admiring."
A prolific historian, biographer, and journalist returns with a sanguinary and thorough account of "the greatest conqueror the world has ever known." Read full book review >

STREET POISON by Justin Gifford
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"'This is not a story without tragedy….But it is a story of redemption and breathtaking creativity, too,' writes Gifford, who not only tells the story well, but shows why it's so significant."
The first biography of Robert Beck, aka Iceberg Slim, (1918-1992), builds a compelling case that the pimp-turned-popular author provided the foundation for gangsta rap, Blaxploitation movies, and so much of the underground culture that became mainstream. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 24, 2015

"The touching, unforgettable story of two brave girls fighting a deadly disease, and the loving support of the women who gave them life."
Shared memoir of two mothers whose daughters are fighting cancer, by artist, writer, and self-help coach Lane (I Am the Wind, 2011) and Nersten, home-schooling mom. Read full book review >
THE FISH LADDER by Katharine Norbury
Released: Aug. 11, 2015

"A beautifully written book about a journey through wild places in the landscape and the heart."
British writer Norbury's debut memoir takes readers on vigorous walks through lochs, rivers, and soggy marshes in Scotland, England, and Wales. Read full book review >

PUTINISM by Walter Laqueur
Released: June 30, 2015

"An erudite and unsettling but convincing argument that the new Russia is a dictatorship 'approved by the majority as long as the going is good,' and if Putin were to vanish today, his successor would make few changes."
Relief at the end of the Cold War lasted barely a decade before observers began wondering if it was returning, this time under a pugnacious, quasi-Stalin: Vladimir Putin. Read full book review >
ENCHANTED AIR by Margarita Engle
Released: Aug. 4, 2015

"As so many of our children are immigrants or children of immigrants, we need more of these stories, especially when they are as beautifully told as this one. (Cold War timeline, author's note) (Poetry/memoir. 10 & up)"
"It really is possible to feel / like two people / at the same time, / when your parents / grandparents / memories / words / come from two / different / worlds." Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 2015

"If you finish this brilliant, realized book thinking you need to own more books, you're to be forgiven. A wonderful celebration of the mind, history, and love."
Memoir of Jewish intellectual life and universal history alike, told through a houseful of books, their eccentric collectors, and the rooms in which they dwelled. Read full book review >
Released: June 23, 2015

"Klein changed the way rock does business. In this balanced, fascinating, and well-written biography, Goodman gives him credit where it's due."
The story of a manager more often vilified than any other in the history of rock. Read full book review >
OUR MAN IN CHARLESTON by Christopher Dickey
Released: July 21, 2015

"A great book explaining the workings of what Dickey calls an erratic, cobbled-together coalition of ferociously independent states. It should be in the library of any student of diplomacy, as well as Civil War buffs."
In this biography of Robert Bunch, the British consul in Charleston, South Carolina, at the beginning of the Civil War, Daily Beast foreign editor Dickey (Securing the City: Inside America's Best Counterterror Force—The NYPD, 2010, etc.) illustrates how an outside observer can understand more about a situation than the parties involved.Read full book review >
SKYFARING by Mark Vanhoenacker
Released: June 3, 2015

"The anatomy of an airliner and peripatetic aerial travel, as well as a sophisticated worldview, combine for first-class reading—sure to enhance your next flight."
Vanhoenacker's workplace is the cockpit of a 747. Leaving a contrail of information with lapidary prose, he shows why he loves his job. Read full book review >
THE TANK MAN'S SON by Mark Bouman
Released: July 1, 2015

"Never preachy or self-pitying, just an honest story well written and well told."
A touching memoir of a truly miserable childhood. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Mona Eltahawy
April 28, 2015

In her debut book, Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution, Egyptian-American journalist and commentator Mona Eltahawy mounts an angry indictment of the treatment of women throughout the Arab world. Born in Egypt, she spent her childhood in London, moving with her family to Saudi Arabia when she was 15. Her shock was immediate and visceral: “It felt as though we’d moved to another planet whose inhabitants fervently wished women did not exist,” she recalls. Women could not travel, work or even go to a doctor’s appointment without male approval. We talk to Eltahawy this week on Kirkus TV about her arresting new book. View video >