An intelligent recollection of a life devoted to politics and the public welfare.

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BERDICHEV TO BASILDON

In this brief memoir, a man recounts his experiences as a researcher, a member of the British Parliament, and a Jew.

Moonman’s (Learning to Live in the Violent Society, 2005, etc.) father, Borach, was born in 1878 in Berdichev, Russia, a small city not far from Odessa. In response to a lack of opportunity and burgeoning anti-Semitism, he moved to Liverpool, where he started a milk distribution business. The author was Borach’s ninth child after eight girls were born, and was a precocious lover of cinema and football. His family left Liverpool in 1940 to escape the devastating German bombing campaigns, a move that effectively forced Moonman’s father into retirement. When still only 13 years old, the author left school—he needed permission from the local labor exchange because he was so young—to begin work for a local newspaper in Liverpool. He subsequently gained an apprenticeship with a printing firm. Meanwhile, he studied economics at Liverpool College of Commerce—later he became a full-time student at the University of Liverpool—and founded the first Guild of Young Printers, which was sponsored by the Typographical Association. After working at the British Institute of Management, he won a seat in Parliament representing Basildon in Essex. Moonman meticulously remembers his work as an MP—he served more than once—in particular his devotion to public health, the fight against racism, and human rights. He also discusses in vivid detail his visit to Greece to provide humanitarian aid after it was stricken by an earthquake in 1953, and a trip to Namibia at the behest of the International Red Cross to help draft a socio-economic plan for the nation. Moonman writes in clear, if sometimes clunky, prose, and his remembrances of political maneuvering can be needlessly microscopic. But his life is truly memorable, and his interests are as diverse as they are energetically pursued. The most thoughtful discussions are about his experiences as a Jew frequently encountering prejudice, and his philosophical commitments to both Zionism and socialism. For those interested in the inner workings of public service in England, this is an insightful treatment.

An intelligent recollection of a life devoted to politics and the public welfare.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5246-8504-1

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2017

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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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