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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Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

THE WAY I HEARD IT

Former Dirty Jobs star Rowe serves up a few dozen brief human-interest stories.

Building on his popular podcast, the author “tells some true stories you probably don’t know, about some famous people you probably do.” Some of those stories, he allows, have been subject to correction, just as on his TV show he was “corrected on windmills and oil derricks, coal mines and construction sites, frack tanks, pig farms, slime lines, and lumber mills.” Still, it’s clear that he takes pains to get things right even if he’s not above a few too-obvious groaners, writing about erections (of skyscrapers, that is, and, less elegantly, of pigs) here and Joan Rivers (“the Bonnie Parker of comedy”) there, working the likes of Bob Dylan, William Randolph Hearst, and John Wayne into the discourse. The most charming pieces play on Rowe’s own foibles. In one, he writes of having taken a soft job as a “caretaker”—in quotes—of a country estate with few clear lines of responsibility save, as he reveals, humoring the resident ghost. As the author notes on his website, being a TV host gave him great skills in “talking for long periods without saying anything of substance,” and some of his stories are more filler than compelling narrative. In others, though, he digs deeper, as when he writes of Jason Everman, a rock guitarist who walked away from two spectacularly successful bands (Nirvana and Soundgarden) in order to serve as a special forces operative: “If you thought that Pete Best blew his chance with the Beatles, consider this: the first band Jason bungled sold 30 million records in a single year.” Speaking of rock stars, Rowe does a good job with the oft-repeated matter of Charlie Manson’s brief career as a songwriter: “No one can say if having his song stolen by the Beach Boys pushed Charlie over the edge,” writes the author, but it can’t have helped.

Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982130-85-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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