SHOWMAN

THE LIFE OF DAVID O. SELZNICK

Brilliant, immense life of the producer of Gone With the Wind, smartly done by film-historian/novelist Thomson (Silver Light, 1990, etc.). Thomson has done stunning research for this labor, and interviewed everyone of importance regarding David O. Selznick (1902-65), aside from Jennifer Jones, Selznick's second and last wife, who clammed up. Jones could have added much but, going by her portrait here, it's understandable that she's still the publicity- shy, shivering creature she was when Selznick first met her—and there's the weight of having parted him from first wife, Irene Mayer Selznick (who told her side in 1981's A Private View). The arc of Selznick's life—from teenage go-getter following his father and older brother into the movie biz to huge success in his middle 30s and then to a long, unstoppable decline—gives a great boost to the opening half of this bio, though the fizzle of Selznick's later career drains the book's energy later on simply because Selznick became a dully compulsive memo-writer, talker, gambler, and egomaniac, out of touch with the times and rambling from one deep pit of debt to another. Selznick spent much of his time addicted to Benzedrine, drank enough and lost enough money gambling to stay embattled with both wives—sometimes bruising Jennifer—and made great use of his producer's couch with actresses, starlets, secretaries, and even messenger girls: not a likable guy, except to well-heeled friends like Jock Whitney and Bill Paley. Selznick also publicized himself as Hollywood's greatest translator of great books to film, although he seldom read anything but synopses and scripts. Thomson sees him not just warts and all but as a puppet to the women in his life, whose neurotic needs kept him chained up like a dancing bear. Pretty much a spellbinder, with a pathetic third act, despite Thomson's keen analyses of Selznick's glossy films and long fade- out. (Photographs—108—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 1992

ISBN: 0-394-56833-8

Page Count: 816

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1992

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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