Backstage view of the various lives of the legendary Liberman- -artist, photographer, and powerful editorial director of the CondÇ Nast magazines—by journalist Kazanjian and New Yorker staff writer Tomkins (Post-to-Neo, 1988, etc.). Liberman was born in 1912 in Russia to brilliant timber- industry analyst Semeon Liberman and Henriette Pascar, a domineering extrovert who directed a state-run children's theater before the family left the Soviet Union for good. Educated at English and French boarding schools, and pushed by Henriette to be a painter, Liberman in 1933 became assistant art director for the Paris weekly Vu. In 1941, he left Nazi-occupied France for N.Y.C., where Vu owner Lucien Vogel introduced him to publisher CondÇ Nast. Particularly interesting here are glimpses of the evolution and workings of CondÇ Nast publishing and Vogue as they passed through the hands of various editorial innovators (``difficult to control'' Diana Vreeland, Anna Wintour, etc.) while Liberman (art director of CondÇ Nast from 1941-62) hovered in the wings. The sharp-eyed authors are frank about Liberman's extravagant socializing, his creative insecurities, and his subservience to his demanding wife, Tatiana, a hat designer at Saks who died in 1991 after a Demerol- addicted old age. According to Tatiana's daughter, writer Francine du Plessix Gray, Liberman thrived on the ``thrill of...walking the tightrope of power and winning respect as a serious artist.'' The authors credit Liberman's long-term influence in magazines to his ``world class charm'' and ``protean and infinitely renewable'' style, and they quote one Vogue editor as saying that Liberman goes for ``the deepest humanity and the deepest meaning''—but also for the ``cheap thrill.'' Liberman's deeper loyalty, the authors contend, is to his painting and sculpture, excellently analyzed here in the context of the New York School. Intriguing, persuasive account of a mercurial personality and the American fashion journalism he helped shape. (One hundred b&w photographs promise, judging from the eight seen, to add both gloss and substance.)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-394-57964-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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