BUILDING A COMPANY

ROY O. DISNEY AND THE CREATION OF AN ENTERTAINMENT EMPIRE

An unrevealing, workmanlike biography of Walt Disney’s older brother, Roy, the financial brains behind Disney’s success. With only a high school diploma and a handful of years as a bank teller, Roy Disney helped transform Disney from a storefront operation into one of America’s preeminent corporations. While Walt was the visionary and the driving creative force (he conceived of everything from feature-length animated films to Disneyland), Roy was responsible for finding the money to pay for it all. It was Roy who had to attend to the bottom line that his brother so scorned, who had to negotiate all the complex deals and loans, who had to pursue the legions of copyright violators and manage the far-flung sales force. His genial, plainspoken midwestern demeanor camouflaged a tough, canny deal-maker and a keen mind for detail. It was Roy, for example, who as far back as the 1930s insisted on holding onto television rights. Considering their differing temperaments and responsibilities, it isn—t surprising that the brothers did not always see eye to eye. The studio tended to divide into Walt’s “boys” and Roy’s “boys”; there were periods when the brothers quarreled bitterly and communicated only in memos. But they always patched up their differences, and after Walt’s death, Roy postponed his retirement to fulfill his brother’s vision for CalArts and Walt Disney World. Published by Hyperion, a division of Disney, this authorized account has the (inevitably?) sanitized air of a self-serving corporate history about it. Thomas (Clown Prince of Hollywood, 1990, etc.) never manages to get a real feel for his subject and, perhaps because he wrote a biography of Walt, tends to let him dominate throughout. The story’s moral: Genius is seldom solitary and is usually in need of money. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: July 15, 1998

ISBN: 0-7868-6200-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

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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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