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An endlessly provocative and deliciously scandalous book for royal watchers.

Sensationalistic snippets from the life of a royal princess.

In this biographical montage of Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon (1930-2002), Daily Mail columnist Brown (Hello Goodbye Hello: A Circle of 101 Remarkable Meetings, 2012, etc.) reflects on the true nature of her regal life and loves. The author’s “appetite for royal kitsch” surely fueled the culling of the book’s material, which ranges from both adulating and scathing biographies to the letters and diaries of, among others, Peter Sellers and Gore Vidal. Brown lays bare the facets of Margaret’s notoriously sharp-tongued personality, often abrasive behavior, affinity for well-heeled bohemia, and rumored sexual affairs. The author spares little in his scrutiny as the references hopscotch from the ubiquitous mentions of Margaret’s name in notable texts and palace announcements to the post-mortem sale pricing of her jewelry collection. In a moment of parody, one of Brown’s specialties, he hilariously imagines Margaret’s marriage to Pablo Picasso. Many particularly scandalous chapters feature essays, opinions, and interview snippets categorizing Margaret as either an aloof snob who “turned pickiness into an art form” or a smug brat whose self-superiority and “snappiness was instinctive and unstoppable, like a nervous twitch.” Collectively, the narrative creates a brutally honest yet dramatically unflattering portrait of Margaret’s regal sybaritic lifestyle, her legacy of boorish behavior, and the competitiveness and outspokenness that doomed her friendships and her stormy marriage to Lord Snowdon. While savory overall, the onslaught of dishy details bends beneath its own weight in the book’s final third. Fusing facts with fancifulness, Brown’s barbed, devilishly entertaining narrative exposes Margaret for the majesty she embodied and, to some, consistently tarnished, but the author barely contributes to explanations as to why she felt so “hurt by life” and behaved accordingly. Biographer Hugo Vickers opined that the difficult Queen Mother–Princess daughter relationship was the glaring culprit.

An endlessly provocative and deliciously scandalous book for royal watchers.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-90604-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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...

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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