THE FINAL DAYS

The calculated unveiling of the new Woodward and Bernstein bombshell—headlines in the daily press, excerpts in Newsweek—has maximized its exposure at the expense of the drama, even the limited "truth" of the book. Anyone who's been awake knows the worst: Kissinger's contempt for "our meatball President" and his siege with a kneeling, sobbing Nixon the night before resignation; Mrs. Nixon's estrangement (separate beds since '62) and the son-in-laws' fears of insanity or suicide; the wire-pulling of Alexander Haig, the waffling of James St. Clair, the bullishness of Ronald Ziegler. Here, however, the infinite indiscretions emerge in the course of events from the April 30, 1973 departure of Haldeman and Ehrlichman to the August 9, 1974 take-off of Nixon himself. For months all hands fight to keep Nixon in office and control the tapes. On July 24, '74 the Supreme Court rules for special prosecutor Jaworski, and Fred Buzhardt, listening at last, finds "the smoking pistol"—the Nixon-Haldeman confab on June 23, 1973, six days after Watergate—which, he and other aides demonstrate, Nixon listened to in May. In the two weeks following Nixon is nudged toward resignation—balks, wavers—and by the time the cat is bagged you wonder not that he eventually fell apart (to whatever extent he actually did) but that he held up so long. Which leaves one doubtful of how much of this dramatic narrtive—composed of direct quotes and desk-side detail—to credit, since none of it is substantiated in any assessable way. And given the putatively "complete" story, what is one to make of what's not there—any clear indication of whether or not Ford promised Nixon a pardon, the one disclosure that would have been in the public interest?

Pub Date: May 3, 1976

ISBN: 0743274067

Page Count: 502

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1976

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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