A collection of solid archival material for a better book.




A memoir about the 1960s that reflects the slapdash spirit of that decade’s underground press.

Sanders is a writer of renown and accomplishment—a published poet, author of prize-winning short stories and a controversial account of the Manson Family murders (The Family, 1971)—yet this hodge-podge shows little evidence of such craft. Instead it functions more like an annotated diary, with entries by topic or date rarely longer than a couple of paragraphs, padded with illustrations that function more as historical artifacts than art. Sanders had his fingers in many of lower Manhattan’s counter-cultural pies: He published a mimeographed arts journal with an obscene name, ran an alternative bookstore, helped to found the notorious Yippie anti-party and “levitate” the Pentagon and proselytized for legalized marijuana and mass fornication in the streets. But he remains best known for fronting the Fugs, a notorious rock band of politically minded poets who landed a major-label contract and (amazingly enough) earned Sanders the cover of Life magazine and spots on national TV. The most extended and hilariously engaging part of the book is a transcript from William F. Buckley’s Firing Line, with Sanders joining the conservative host, a clueless academic, and Jack Kerouac, who had become an alcoholic reactionary, in a discussion that Buckley introduced with, “Our topic tonight is the Hippies, the understanding of which we must, I guess, acquire or die painfully.” The entire program was a joke that only Sanders and occasionally Kerouac seemed to get. The matter-of-fact tone through much of the narrative makes it difficult to distinguish satire from delusion. Of the Fugs, he writes, “Some of the songs on our second album are not what is currently known as PC, or politically correct, and we might not now write them in quite the same way, but they were true to the testosterone-crazed era in which they were created.” One might say the same about the book, except that it was written now, about then.

A collection of solid archival material for a better book.

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-306-81888-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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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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