IT HAD TO BE REVOLUTION

MEMOIRS OF AN AMERICAN RADICAL

A priceless Old Left memoir by Shipman (1895-1989), who began as a student activist and became a founding member of the Mexican Communist Party and an intimate of leftists and literati around the globe. Writing from retirement in Texas during the Bush Administration, Shipman—then in his 90s but still taking college courses—tells a story that spans the decades from Wilson to Reagan. As a child, he says, he was so wild that he was sent to a boarding school at age five and didn't come home until he was ready for high school. Launched by Walter Lippmann into a delayed college career at Columbia, the author became a member of Henry Ford's bizarre ``peace-ship'' contingent prior to WW I, as well as a friend to Lorenz Hart, Bertolt Brecht, and the Mankiewicz brothers. Son of a Jewish father who changed both his name and religion, Shipman was a classic rebel and idealist, as well as a tremendously resourceful man who, even while toiling for the CP, worked at various times at The Wall Street Journal, Standard and Poor's, and Dow Jones. Hounded out of the US as a conscientious objector (his father supplied decisive testimony), Shipman fled to Mexico, where he assumed the first of many identities and met everyone from boxing champ Jack Johnson to the legendary Russian diplomat/agent Michael Borodin, who sent him to Haiti to track down a missing courier and a mysterious suitcase. The intrepid author retrieved both, thus becoming Borodin's assistant. Travelling the world for Communism, he ended up associating with Lenin, John Reed, Trotsky, et al. But Shipman couldn't stomach Stalin and, in 1929, he was expelled from the Party for ``petit-bourgeois'' tendencies— although he remained a radical. The story of a shrewd, observant, daring, and hardheaded man who always gravitated to interesting people and issues: both an autobiographical cliffhanger and an important historical document. (Nineteen b&w photographs)

Pub Date: June 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-8014-2180-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Cornell Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

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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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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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