by David Ambroz ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 13, 2022
A haunting, inspiring chronicle of fortitude and perseverance.
Moving testimony from a survivor of trauma.
In his riveting debut memoir, lawyer and child welfare advocate Ambroz recounts an early life of poverty, cruelty, and degradation. With his mother suffering from severe mental illness, he and his two older siblings moved from New York City to Albany to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, living on the streets, in shelters, and occasionally in crumbling apartments from which, inevitably, they were evicted. Caught in a cycle of “homelessness, hunger, housing, welfare, and homelessness again,” Ambroz tried to mitigate his mother’s volatility by insulating her from triggers that would set her off. Not least, keeping her stable meant protecting himself and his siblings from countless “inexplicable moment[s] of brutal, casual cruelty.” Besides exposing the “illness, infection, infestation, and unmet needs” that marked his childhood, Ambroz indicts a system of severely inadequate social services. “The system doesn’t trust people in poverty,” he writes, and his desperate pleas for help were ignored: “Over and over again the three of us were left with a woman who was clearly hurting us by people in positions of authority.” When they were removed from their mother, the path to foster placement was fraught with obstacles. Ambroz was considered a special problem: Though he feared outing himself as gay, therapists—and one macho foster father—tried to “fix” him. After temporary housing in a juvenile detention facility and group homes, he was sent to a family that abused and exploited him. One of 450,000 children in foster care, Ambroz managed—with the help of sympathetic supporters and his own fierce determination—to escape the system that threatened to relegate him to the same “slide from poverty to disaster” that dogged his youth. Beginning in high school, as a member of the National Foster Youth Advisory Council, he has worked for meaningful reform, and with this potent memoir, he urges readers to “become one of the changemakers.” The author is now the head of Community Engagement (West) for Amazon.A haunting, inspiring chronicle of fortitude and perseverance.
Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Legacy Lit/Hachette
Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022
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by Walter Isaacson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 12, 2023
Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
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Best Books Of 2023
New York Times Bestseller
A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.
To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023
Page Count: 688
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Thomas Sowell ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 19, 2023
For those satisfied with blame-the-victim tidbits of received wisdom.
The noted conservative economist delivers arguments both fiscal and political against social justice initiatives such as welfare and a federal minimum wage.
A Black scholar who has lived through many civil rights struggles, Sowell is also a follower of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, who insisted that free market solutions are available for every social problem. This short book begins with what amounts to an impatient declaration that life isn’t fair. Some nations are wealthy because of geographical advantages, and some people are wealthy because they’re smarter than others. “Some social justice advocates may implicitly assume that various groups have similar developed capabilities, so that different outcomes appear puzzling,” he writes. In doing so, he argues, they fail to distinguish between equal opportunity and equal capability. Sowell is dismissive of claims that Black Americans and other minorities are systematically denied a level playing field: Put non-white kids in charter schools, he urges, and presto, their math scores will zoom northward as compared to those in public schools. “These are huge disparities within the same groups, so that neither race nor racism can account for these huge differences,” he writes, clearly at pains to distance himself from the faintest suggestion that race has anything to do with success or failure in America. At the same time, he isn’t exactly comfortable with the idea that economic inequalities exist, and he tries to finesse definitions to suit his convictions: “The terms ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ are misleading in another and more fundamental sense. These terms apply to people’s stock of wealth, not their flows of income.” As for crime? Give criminals more rights, he asserts, as with Miranda v. Arizona, and crime rates go up—an assertion that overlooks numerous other variables but fits Sowell’s ideological slant.For those satisfied with blame-the-victim tidbits of received wisdom.
Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023
Page Count: 224
Publisher: Basic Books
Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023
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