Papa’s best and worst on full display, sometimes in the same paragraph.

A Hemingway son and grandson present a reprinting of their ancestor’s 1935 work (Hemingway Library Edition) along with some illuminating supplementary material.

First-time readers of Green Hills will enjoy discovering the source of Hemingway’s famous praise for Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as some images that appeared in subsequent fiction (“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”). Hemingway originally created the volume as a sort of nonfiction novel, an actual account of his winter (1933-1934) African big-game hunting safari in company with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, and others. Her diary, which Hemingway employed extensively, appears in an appendix and includes accounts of the author’s battles with dysentery (grim details) and of an accidental rifle discharge that just missed his head. Shooting himself in the head, of course, would come some 30 years later, and in Green Hills and its supplementary material are some comments about guns and suicide—by Hemingway and others—that crackle with dramatic irony. (In some observations he later deleted—and included here in an appendix—is his son's judgment that his father was a coward for shooting himself.) Also on display (in the text and in the supplements) are Papa’s famous ego, his waxing lyrical about beautiful animals he has just killed, and his testosterone-soaked rivalry with a hunting companion (Charles Thompson, called “Karl” in Green Hills), whose trophies always seemed to surpass Hemingway’s. Also in the appendices are lists of his kills (most were for meat, he says) and altered versions of his published text (most from the collection at the University of Virginia), one of which claims writer Archibald MacLeish was a coward. There is also some casual racism (one woman, he says in Green Hills, had “niggery legs”) and a delightful passage about a lioness attacking a wildebeest’s testicles.

Papa’s best and worst on full display, sometimes in the same paragraph.

Pub Date: July 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4767-8755-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2015


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



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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