CITIZEN KOCH

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

After Mayor, Politics, and All the Best—three works that would surely have worn out the ``I'' key on an old-fashioned typewriter—what more has New York's cantankerous former mayor to say? Well, while earlier books have rehashed political battles, this one, Koch says, deals with personal moments. How's he doin'? Not bad at winning sympathy at first, with accounts of his pinched family and their exploitation by a richer uncle, of his gruesome war memories and his mother's death from cancer. But once out of law school and into the world, the story seems to confirm the suspicion that Koch never had a personal life. The author revisits familiar political territory—his early reform politics in Greenwich Village; his years on the City Council and in Congress and three terms as mayor; the numerous political campaigns—with emphasis on interpersonal frictions and attention to his ``feelings'': ``I was miserable in Washington''; ``I was incensed.'' The book's refrain might be ``For that I will never forgive him [or her]''; and, like Koch's other books, it's full of catty comments (``Liz [Taylor] looked like a huge horse''), word- for-word replays of petty confrontations, and rancorous complaints of what Koch claims are blacks' special privileges and demagogic leaders. And though Koch boasts repeatedly of his candor, there is no real soul-searching here. He confesses to being deeply depressed by the corruption scandals during his last term, even to entertaining ideas of suicide (``I was in absolute unrelenting agony'')—but not to any mistakes in judgment or to having tolerated patronage arrangements. Today, with ``nine jobs'' (mostly as a media personality), ``I've never been happier''—though Koch can't say the same for his cherished city: ``Mayor Dinkins is doing such a poor job.'' Testy as ever, with some juicy dish and a few good spite stories you can cheer. (Sixteen-page photo insert—not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-312-08161-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1992

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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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