Prolific celebrity biographer Spoto (Rebel: The Life and Legend of James Dean, 1996, etc.) offers an uncritical portrait of the three-time Oscar winner, who epitomized both Hollywood stardom at its most luminous and, for a time, career-hobbling scandal. The author interviewed Bergman in the 1970s and remained an acquaintance until her death in 1982; in addition, he spoke to many family members and colleagues, and he is admirably thorough about the facts. Bergman's childhood was marked by many family deaths, and her early vocation for the theater was quickly diverted to film: By age 22, in 1937, she was the most popular actress in Sweden, and inevitably she was sought out by Hollywood (Spoto rather hurries over Bergman's detour to shoot a film in Nazi Germany in 1938, assuring the reader that she later felt guilty about it). In America, Bergman instantly hit with films like Intermezzo, Casablanca, and Gaslight. Unhappily married to a domineering Swedish doctor who acted as her de facto agent, Bergman had affairs with, among others, photographer Robert Capa and director Victor Fleming. But she was perceived publicly as a model of rectitude until, in 1949, she became pregnant by Roberto Rossellini and relocated to Italy. The ensuing public outcry kept her out of American films for the next seven years: Spoto captures the puritanical fervor of the time, when Bergman was denounced in the Senate as a ``free-love cultist.'' But Hollywood forgave her, and she was universally beloved thereafter. Or so implies Spoto, who is so evidently so besotted by her character and her craft that his analyses tend to be uninformative: ``Ingrid always approached a role simply and without affectation, then went away quietly, memorized the lines and returned—having at some point simply understood.'' Spoto's ardor for his subject, although not unwarranted, crosses the line that separates chronicling the life from prostrating oneself before the dead. (32 pages photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 18, 1997

ISBN: 0-06-018702-6

Page Count: 496

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1997


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



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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