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NIGHT

A MEMOIR

Wiesel’s memoir, first published in English in 1960, has emerged as a classic work of literature from that darkest of eras,...

A reissue of Wiesel’s (Open Heart, 2012, etc.) foundational, exemplary memoir of the Holocaust.

Even though bracketed by post-mortem appreciations by Barack Obama, genocide scholar and former U.N. ambassador Samantha Power, and Wiesel’s son Elisha and including Wiesel’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech and lecture and a commemorative address before the U.N., Night is a slender book, just a shade more than 100 pages long. But it packs a whole world—perhaps better, a whole inferno—into that brief span, much trimmed from a draft reported to be eight times longer. As the memoir opens, Wiesel is a schoolboy in a Transylvanian town, studying with a wise scholar named Moishe the Beadle, who liked to say, “Man comes closer to God through the questions he asks Him.” The great question that emerges as events sweep in, brought to Sighet on German troop transports and Hungarian police vans, is, of course, why? No fully satisfactory answer ever emerges from Wiesel’s tour of the hell that ensues, as the ghetto—“ruled by neither German nor Jew; it was ruled by delusion”—gives way to the concentration camp and its endless brutalities, administered by Germans and kapos alike. As he recounts the flight before the advancing Red Army deep into a collapsing Germany, Wiesel draws on the voices of many of his fellow inmates, one of whom memorably says of Adolf Hitler, “he alone has kept his promises, all his promises, to the Jewish people.” Only the promise of utter extermination goes unfulfilled, leaving the author to contemplate the dead man walking that he has become when the camp is finally liberated: “The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.”

Wiesel’s memoir, first published in English in 1960, has emerged as a classic work of literature from that darkest of eras, and it deserves to be read and reread for decades to come.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-22199-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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INTO THE WILD

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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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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