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Well-written and heartfelt but short on dramatic moments and memorable anecdotes.

The brother of Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel relates the history of his family’s classic immigrants-make-good American story.

Ezekiel Emanuel’s memoir is ostensibly the story of how he and his brothers, Rahm and Ari, developed their unique personalities and talents over the years. The author became a respected research scientist specializing in bioethics, his brother Ari, a successful talent agent, and his brother Rahm worked for the Clinton campaign in 1992 and eventually became Barack Obama’s chief of staff. Yet despite the brothers' ambitions in their respective fields, they aren't the ones whose lives make for the most interesting focal point in the book: It’s the parents who actually lived the memoir-worthy lives. The father, Ben, was a direct participant in the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, interrupting his medical studies to act as an amateur secret agent and then joining the Israeli artillery in the fight against the Egyptians. After the war, he finished medical school in Switzerland before coming to America to set up his practice. Their mother was a staunch left-wing activist in the 1960s; she brought her sons to some of the most heated political protests in Chicago. Comparatively, the early life that Ezekiel and his brothers led in the Chicago suburbs was fairly comfortable and middle-class, with all three brothers going to expensive, exclusive colleges on their father’s dime and studiously sticking to the straight-and-narrow path to professional success. In fact, the most exciting thing that happened to the author came while studying in England: He was jailed in Oxford for supposedly resisting arrest while breaking bike safety laws.

Well-written and heartfelt but short on dramatic moments and memorable anecdotes.

Pub Date: March 26, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6903-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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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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