THE FIRST WOMAN IN THE REPUBLIC

A CULTURAL BIOGRAPHY OF LYDIA MARIA CHILD

A close look at a 19th-century author and abolitionist that integrates her personal life, her work, and the eventful period in US history during which she lived. Karcher (English, American Studies, Women's Studies/Temple Univ.; Shadow Over the Promised Land, not reviewed) is a staunch advocate of her subject, tracing the ``trajectory'' of Child's life from her earliest fiction through her anti-slavery work and later advocacy of women's and Indian's rights. Child (180280), who entered the literary limelight with Hobomok, a novel sympathetic to Indians and hostile to patriarchy, compounded her success by founding Juvenile Miscellany, a hugely popular children's magazine. But love came to Child at a high price: Her husband, newspaper editor David Lee Child, was a terrible businessman who accumulated debts faster than she could cover them. Karcher, clearly appalled by a woman ``abasing herself to the husband responsible for sabotaging her career,'' indicates that Child's early opposition to gender equality could have been rooted in devotion to her marriage. Need for cash drove her to write on domestic economy, but after an 1830 meeting with abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, her life and writings acquired a greater goal. With the publication of her first major work on slavery, Child's formerly adoring public became incensed, the Juvenile Miscellany folded, and her activities as an anti- slavery activist put her in danger (as Karcher's comments on mob violence effectively indicate). Karcher is at her best when Child herself is a lion; less impressive are the occasional psychological speculations (e.g., on the possible connection in Child's mind between abolitionist John Brown and her parents) and excuses for Child not meeting late-20th-century standards for political correctness (e.g., depression and housework kept her from fighting the Fugitive Slave Law). This valuable portrait of a complex and talented woman may be most notable for indicating the extent to which she was of- -rather than ahead of—her time. (10 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-8223-1485-1

Page Count: 785

Publisher: Duke Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1994

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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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