GOOD SPIRITS

THE MAKING OF A BUSINESSMAN

A sequel of sorts to The Making of a Jew (1996). Between the making of deals, flying around on jets, and the eating of good brisket sandwichesall chronicled hereit's hard to tell when Bronfman had the time to write this odd but rather appealing book, part memoir and part savvy digest of big-business deal-making. The narrative offers a series of glimpses of Bronfman's business dealings at Seagram's, of which he is now the chairman, interspersed with glimpses of childhood events that Bronfman believes have helped shape his outlook and appetites. His family settled in Montreal and lived lavishly in an enormous home. But Bronfman remembers chiefly a lot of heavy furniture and dark rooms, and notes in passing that he rarely returns there. His job training, to his mind, began on the day of his birth. As the first son, he was automatically in line to take over the company and was expected to begin, at an early age, to master the business from the gorund up. His two older sisters were expected to stay out of his way. His oldest sister died still angry about being cut out of the business, but Bronfman notes that he has made peace with the rest of his family, including his mother, from whom he had been slightly estranged since childhood. Bronfman discusses his family and business life with great honesty and gives a short and harrowing account of the kidnapping of his son Sam in 1975. Bronfman's interests, like his company, are far-reaching, and he manages to pack in detailed discussions of such things as Du Pont stock options, Swiss gold, and the comforts of home in the short span of this book. President of the World Jewish Congress, he closes with an impassioned plea against anti-Semitism. While this is utterly harmless stuff, the book is likely to be of interest to only a small circle of readers.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1998

ISBN: 0-399-14374-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1998

NIGHT

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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