That cloudless rarity, a book that you hope will never end. Matthau tells of life with her two best friends, millionairess Gloria Vanderbilt and Oona O'Neill, daughter of Eugene O'Neill and wife of Charlie Chaplin; of her marriages to William Saroyan and Walter Matthau; and of her lifelong friendship with Truman Capote. All that could make this simply a superior memoir. But something at once concrete and cloud-borne in Matthau's voice binds the reader to the sheer openness of her feelings—and the honesty of her lies. Her childhood: an illegitimate birth, foster homes, and then sudden wealth when her mother marries a pioneer in aviation. Carol, Gloria, and Oona form a honey-faced trio of beauties who come at you like walking cupcakes. Gloria is the poor little rich girl who marries aged conductor Leopold Stokowski, later loses all her money, then goes into business franchising her name and makes more than she inherited. Oona, 18, marries Chaplin, 52, raises a huge brood, then dies of ``a broken heart'' (drink, really) after Chaplin's death. Matthau marries Saroyan twice, finds herself chained to a sick gambler and rotten (not to say insane) tyrant famed for loving humanity. Her third buddy throughout life is Capote, whom she meets when he is on a ladder spying on her in her bath. Then she meets another sick gambler—mordant, married Walter Matthau—and has a four-year affair with him. The lovers' dialogue reaches a grand wittiness, with Walter ready to bet away the ground under Carol's feet. Life with Walter is a masterpiece of pain and laughter, underwritten by Carol's own lingering, near-fatal illness. Time will blunt its shears on this triple-resistant book. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: June 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-394-58266-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1992

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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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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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