Former New York City mayor—columnist—mystery novelist—radio pundit Koch reflects on life at 75, in a book whose meandering nature provides an apt chassis for Koch’s vigorous social views and uniquely optimistic/hectoring outlook. With good humor and mock shock at his longevity and continued public presence, Koch begins by enumerating the many employment venues he’s sampled in his determination to stay productive and relevant: movie critic, SlimFast spokesman, People’s Court judge. Although he’s disingenuous about being called the quintessential New Yorker, Koch embodies his city’s signal qualities, both good (his calls for racial and economic justice) and bad (his unapologetic self-importance). And while Koch’s opinions are usually strident, they are often compelling, as in his scorching attack on the widely accepted business practice of —downsizing— older workers, left to fend for themselves after decades of service. Such diatribes support Koch’s central point: the need to approach human aging shrewdly, in practical terms (money management, retirement savings, health insurance) as well as on the more essential spiritual level of keeping active and engaged with the world. His tone remains tart, but his topics are surprisingly varied: All manner of anecdotes, including graphic notes on his personal health, are followed by keen musings on subjects ranging from the racial disparities of American justice to the problematic state of live theater. And just when you think his opinions on public figures are predictably blunt (as when he savages Rudy Giuliani on civil-liberties grounds), he—ll surprise you with his humanistic consideration of a figure like Al Sharpton. If His Honor seems at times a brash (and now wizened) cartoon character who never spotted a fight or a digression he didn—t like, his latest missive should delight both senior readers, for whom Koch’s admittedly fortunate circumstances may still be instructive, and students of his classic New York attitude. (Author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-688-17075-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1999

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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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