Engaging reading about an elegant modern-day Robin Hood.

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DIAMOND DORIS

THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST NOTORIOUS JEWEL THIEF

An ex–jewel thief’s account of her more than 50-year career stealing fabulously expensive gems from some of the world’s most exclusive stores.

Born to an African American coal miner father and his Native American wife in the West Virginia community of Slab Fork, Payne grew up with a keen awareness of social injustice. She knew from childhood that “greedy coal mining companies made a ton of money” on poor families by skimping on housing and mine safety. Though her family lived decently, she and her mother sometimes became victims of her father’s violence. Determined to stay independent of men and help her mother get away from her father, Payne employed a talent for theft that she accidentally discovered while trying on watches at a jewelry store. She began her criminal career in her early teens stealing food from the market and money from school for her family. As her confidence grew, so did her desire to live in the luxury denied people of color. By her late teens, Payne used her beauty and charm to entice store jewelry store clerks into showing her the expensive jewelry she took with ease. Later, she became involved with a married Jewish businessman who introduced her to the black market underworld and helped her score major thefts all over the country. After his death, Payne set her sights on international heists at stores like Cartier and Bulgari. She served one light jail sentence late in her career for a minor theft, yet neither the FBI nor international police were ever able to definitively prove her guilt. Payne’s personal charm is clearly evident on every page, but what makes her book especially provocative is her righteous anger at a (largely white) diamond trade built on the backs of poor Africans and her belief that she was “notorious on purpose.”

Engaging reading about an elegant modern-day Robin Hood.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-291799-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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