During a time of political, economic, and social upheaval across the United States, Williams’ grounded optimism is a...

WHAT I FOUND IN A THOUSAND TOWNS

A TRAVELING MUSICIAN'S GUIDE TO REBUILDING AMERICA'S COMMUNITIES: ONE COFFEE SHOP, DOG RUN, AND OPEN-MIKE NIGHT AT A TIME

The singer/songwriter builds on her decades as a touring performer to offer bracing examples of small cities that have found ways to thrive.

In a series of chapters about specific locales, William (Lights, Camera, Amalee, 2006, etc.) is both descriptive and prescriptive. She bolsters her keen sense of observation with interviews of local reformers and occasional forays into urban planning theories. In addition, the author synthesizes what she has observed and heard to provide specific, practical suggestions about how struggling towns can seek improvements. In the first of the book’s three sections, Williams focuses on outdoor spaces that have been converted to a new use, such as a barren hillside turned into a sledding park, and on spaces created by nature that require no radical transformation. Although she mentions numerous cities where she has resided and/or performed, the first section focuses most thoroughly on Beacon, New York; Moab, Utah; and Wilmington, Delaware. In the second section of the book, Williams elaborates on how to build healthy small cities through emphasizing historic factors (Phoenixville, Pennsylvania), cultural factors (Carrboro, North Carolina), and local food (the Finger Lakes region of New York). In the final section, primarily about Middletown, Connecticut, and Gainesville, Florida, the author emphasizes the importance of figuring out the core of the local character and spreading the news to residents as well as tourists. The principle connecting all of Williams’ examinations is something she terms “positive proximity,” which begins when city residents who normally live in relative isolation come together to pool their enthusiasms and skills. Williams stresses inclusiveness as part of proximity, giving examples of how residents of all races and backgrounds cooperate for the good of all concerned.

During a time of political, economic, and social upheaval across the United States, Williams’ grounded optimism is a refreshing corrective.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-465-09896-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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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