Bound to please both specialists and general readers.




Lucid, authoritative account of big-power diplomatic parleys from Munich to Camp David.

World leaders met mano a mano for many centuries before the 20th, notes Reynolds (International History/Cambridge Univ.; In Command of History, 2005, etc.). In 1520, Henry VIII of England and François I of France gathered with their retinues on the outskirts of Calais for two weeks of jousting, feasting and dancing. In 1807, Napoleon and Czar Alexander I gabbed on a ceremonial raft on the Niemen River, at their shared border. But summits became more possible, urgent and significant with the rise of air travel, weapons of mass destruction and, somewhat later, television. The first truly modern summit, held at Munich in 1938, branded in public memory the image of Britain’s Neville Chamberlain, umbrella in hand, predicting “peace for our time” after talks with Hitler. Winston Churchill coined the term “summit” to describe such meetings in 1950, when climbing to the peak of Mt. Everest was all the rage. Reynolds draws on transcripts to recreate six notable meetings. Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin brought false assumptions to 1945 talks at Yalta about Germany’s future while sleeping among bedbugs in the Livadia Palace. John F. Kennedy’s “disastrous” 1961 Vienna summit with Nikita Khrushchev seeded the Cuban missile crisis and the Vietnam quagmire. At the 1972 Moscow talks on missile accords, Leonid Brezhnev tried to unsettle Richard Nixon by playing with a toy cannon. Reynolds offers revealing insights into the quirks and negotiating skills of leaders, finding Menachem Begin the savviest in 1978 sessions with Jimmy Carter and Anwar Sadat at Camp David, and Ronald Reagan well-prepared after reading 24 briefing papers while en route to his successful 1985 talks in Geneva with Mikhail Gorbachev.

Bound to please both specialists and general readers.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-465-06904-0

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2007

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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