GABBY

A FIGHTER PILOT'S LIFE

The low-key memoir of an American fighter pilot who achieved ace status in two wars. Gabreski, the son of Polish immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania, nearly flunked out of Notre Dame but was nonetheless recruited by the Army Air Corps. In 1941, he was posted to Hawaii, where he lived through the attack on Pearl Harbor. Eager for action, Gabreski talked the Pentagon into assigning him to a Polish RAF squadron in England; he subsequently became the ETO's top ace, with 28 confirmed kills in 17 months of aerial combat. On the day the author was scheduled to return home to a hero's welcome, he flew one last mission and was shot down—and spent the last ten months of WW II behind the wire of a POW camp. Back in the States before V-J Day, Gabreski married his longtime sweetheart and left the military for a sales job at Douglas Aircraft. After almost two years of civilian life, however, he reenlisted with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Following a brief sojourn as a test pilot, Gabreski was sent to Korea in 1951 as a wing commander. Flying F-86 Sabrejets, he was credited with downing more than six enemy planes, making him a double ace. Retiring in 1967 as a full colonel, the author accepted an executive post with Grumman, where (save for a hectic two-year stint as the politically appointed president of the Long Island Railroad) he remained for the next 20 years. Gabreski devotes most of his understated text to matter-of- fact accounts of his combat experiences, leaving readers to speculate on just what made him such a deadly dogfighter. There's also a rather full roll call of erstwhile comrades in arms, most of whom add little to the narrative. These cavils apart, an often ingratiating memoir. (Sixteen pages of photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-517-57801-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1991

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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