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A book Talbot likely wrote mainly for himself, but it should provide inspiration for others facing similar challenges.

A near-death, new-life memoir by the San Francisco author and founder of Salon.

In short chapters that had their genesis on Facebook, Talbot (The Devil's Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America's Secret Government, 2015, etc.) recounts a year of recovery, upheaval, and transformation following the stroke that almost killed him. He also reflects on the pace of the stress-filled career that brought him to this precipice, in his mid-60s, while he was still trying to navigate his way through considerable Hollywood challenges in attempting to bring his books to the screen. As the hard-charging CEO and editor-in-chief of Salon, he championed progressive investigative journalism at a time when the industry was heading toward a financial abyss. “I believed then that Salon was worth dying for. We were caught up in history’s hurricane,” he writes, with the somewhat messianic self-importance that occasionally typifies his tone. (Talbot also compares himself to the revered mystic monk Thomas Merton, though “not religious.”) Though the author is a Type A personality in overdrive, his lessons should strike a responsive chord in many readers. “My stroke did not just change my life,” he writes. “It saved my life.” By necessity, he slowed down, he lost a lot of weight, and he pared his existence down to the essentials and became focused on what really matters. He made his peace with death. He learned to “live each moment like it’s your last, because it just might be. Embrace your mortality. Even celebrate it. And let the shadow of death make the light in your life only seem brighter.” These are the sort of sentiments upon which countless self-help books are constructed, but Talbot demonstrates the conviction of someone who has been there and back and now knows what is really at stake.

A book Talbot likely wrote mainly for himself, but it should provide inspiration for others facing similar challenges.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4521-8333-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Chronicle Prism

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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