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The author’s wit and biting analysis render this a most readable study.

What first appears to be a narrowly academic profile of two rival scholars amplifies into a trenchant, engaging study of the postwar split between the New Left and Western liberalism.

Historian Caute (Politics and the Novel During the Cold War, 2009, etc.) was privy to Isaiah Berlin’s attempts to blackball Isaac Deutscher from gaining an academic post in 1963, when the author and Berlin were both fellows at All Souls College, Oxford. In this sharply argued work, the author develops and clarifies their feud in light of Cold War attitudes. Both brilliant minds who hailed from Eastern European Jewish families and eventually took refuge in England from totalitarian violence, the two writers, journalists and historians made their way in British academia and publishing with remarkable success, though with vastly different ideological takes regarding the Soviet Union. As the Cold War ramped up, both became enormously in demand to delineate the struggle between the Soviet Union and the West. For Berlin, the notion of individual liberty and responsibility dispelled any illusions about Soviet reality and Marxist determinism, while Deutscher, whose formative years were spent as a member of the Polish Communist Party, was a well-connected Marxist whose deeply researched biographies of Stalin, Trotsky and Lenin were considered as helpful explanations to the West as well as apologies. Recognized as an international relations expert, Deutscher hoped to move from journalism to academia but was thwarted by Berlin, serving on the advisory board, who denounced his rival in confidential letters as being “morally intolerable.” Caute astutely probes the contentious issues, including concepts of history, Zionism and life for dissident writers in the Soviet Union.

The author’s wit and biting analysis render this a most readable study.

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-300-19209-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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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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