QUEEN BESS

DAREDEVIL AVIATOR

Rich (Amelia Earhart, 1989) sympathetically limns the extraordinary life of a woman who courageously defied gender and race to become the first African-American to earn an international pilot's license. While admitting that the scant amount of written material about Bessie Coleman has affected the scope of her book, Rich has nonetheless crafted the recollections of aging relatives, friends, and eyewitnesses, as well as press clippings and Coleman's few letters, into a vivid portrait of a remarkable woman. Born in 1892 in Atlanta, Texas, Coleman found her hitherto happy childhood changing when her father, a day laborer, left Texas in search of better work, and when school became an intermittent thing, squeezed in between cotton-picking and housework. Determined to make something of herself, the future aviatrix headed for Chicago, where she studied to become a manicurist. Though the work brought good money, as well as contacts with leaders of the black community, it failed to satisfy. On the spur of the moment, Coleman, hearing talk of French women fliers, ``decided that flying would provide a way to be noticed.'' Unable to train in the US, the ever-resourceful young woman got financial backing and sailed to France. There, she earned her license in 1921, two years before Amelia Earhart. Returning home as a celebrity, she flew in air shows, performed daring stunts, and—described as ``the world's greatest woman flyer''—spoke widely about the need for blacks to learn to fly. But segregation, sexism, and several accidents made Coleman's life difficult and thwarted her ambition to open a flying school. In 1926, just as her life seemed to be turning around, she died in a crash. A timely and engaging introduction to a woman of stunning accomplishment and courage who deserves a place of high honor in the pantheon of early flying. (Illustrations)

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 1993

ISBN: 1-56098-265-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 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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BECOMING

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...

NIGHT

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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