Hutchinson's courage is beyond question, but LaPlante never manages to make her any more sympathetic than her Puritan...

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AMERICAN JEZEBEL

THE UNCOMMON LIFE OF ANNE HUTCHINSON, THE WOMAN WHO DEFIED THE PURITANS

An attempt to place Anne Hutchinson (1591–1643) as an early feminist, after being expelled from Massachusetts Bay colony in 1638 on charges of heresy and sedition.

LaPlante (Seized, 1993) begins with Hutchinson's trial before the Massachusetts General Court. Her real offenses, the author argues, consisted of building up a power base from which she challenged the colony's established church and government. LaPlante recapitulates Hutchinson's childhood in England, where her father capitulated to the power of the Anglican hierarchy. Anne, the second of 15 children, left England rather than bend to a church she considered corrupt. Convinced that she could distinguish those who were saved from those who were foredoomed, she stalked out of one Boston church rather than hear what she considered false doctrine. She began holding Bible discussion groups in her home, attended at first by other women, but increasingly by men. Convinced that her criticisms of the clergy would undermine the government, Governor John Winthrop brought her to trial. The outcome, LaPlante makes clear, was never in serious doubt. Arcane as the theological issues seem (her heresy was officially diagnosed as Antinomianism), the central issue was that a woman dared challenge the establishment. Banished from the colony, she moved to nearby Rhode Island, where she is today recognized as one of the founders of the state, as well as inspiration for its official policy of religious tolerance. Upon the death of her husband a few years later, she moved to upstate New York, where she and her large family perished in an Indian raid, having refused to arm themselves. LaPlante effectively details the intellectual climate in which Hutchinson flourished, and gives a vivid picture of 17th-century life in England and the colonies.

Hutchinson's courage is beyond question, but LaPlante never manages to make her any more sympathetic than her Puritan opponents.

Pub Date: March 2, 2004

ISBN: 0-06-056233-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2003

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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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