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An appreciative and unpretentious chronicle, this is required reading for Santana fans and devotees of classic rock legends.

The Mexican-American classic guitar legend (and 2013 Kennedy Center honoree) shares his life before and beneath the rock ’n’ roll spotlight with the assistance of Kahn (The House that Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records, 2006, etc.) and Miller.

In this frank and impassioned memoir, iconic, influential musician Santana, 67, known for fusing rock and Latin rhythms, weaves together the rhythmic, domestic and spiritual dimensions of his career. A meager, rocky childhood was spent traversing southwestern Mexico to Tijuana and finally San Francisco, all while being greatly influenced by a disciplinarian mother and a romantic, violinist father who “lived to play, and he played to live…what musicians are meant to do.” Generously reflective and well-balanced, Santana’s memoir glides across autobiographical anecdotes of his joyful immersion in music theory and guitar lessons yet also addresses the intense emotional pain and confusion of being molested as a boy. Santana’s burgeoning career as a blues-appreciative guitarist bloomed through decades steeped in Bill Graham–produced shows at the legendary Fillmore venue, admiring Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, the Doors and the Grateful Dead, then into the psychedelic Summer of Love and the first formation of his Latin rock group Santana Blues Band in 1967. Complementing the uproarious stories of the band’s tours are reflections on his personal life, his 34-year marriage and subsequent remarriage, and an exhaustive listing of his friendships with rock luminaries. Charismatic and soulful, Santana writes with the benefit of what he calls a “celestial memory,” whereby only the blessings and beauty of life are measured and celebrated. Even readers skimming for tabloid dirt may be swayed by the respectful purity of Santana’s recollections; his moments of struggle and frustration are handled with the same dignity and grace as his many triumphs.

An appreciative and unpretentious chronicle, this is required reading for Santana fans and devotees of classic rock legends.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0316244923

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

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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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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