LORENZ HART

A POET ON BROADWAY

An old-fashioned Broadway biography of Richard Rodgers's first lyricist. Nolan (The Sound of Their Music: The Story of Rodgers and Hammerstein, 1978) presents a ``this-is-your-life'' account of Lorenz Hart's rise and fall. Born in 1895 to Jewish immigrant parents in New York City's Harlem, Hart was raised in a boisterous household by a loving mother and a ne'er-do-well father who specialized in elaborate business scams. After directing amateur theatricals at summer camp, Hart began working on student revues at Columbia, where he met a young piano player named Richard Rodgers. Through classmate Herb Fields, then an aspiring writer, they were introduced to Fields's father, Lew, a theatrical impresario, who gave them their first break. After several abortive stabs at writing for Broadway, the partners were so unsure of their eventual success that Rodgers was tempted by an offer to sell babies' underwear just before their first big hit, a score for the Theater Guild's Garrick Gaieties of 1935. Rodgers and Hart went on to create many well-known musicals, including Babes in Arms, I Married an Angel, The Boys from Syracuse, and the great Pal Joey. Along the way, Hart pushed for lyrics—witty, cosmopolitan, full of current slang and topical allusions—whose quality was a notch above the ``moon-June-spoon'' fare of previous popular songs; he also insisted that songs be an integral part of the play, not just interpolations to suit a particular singing star. The writer was dogged by low self-esteem and a homosexual bent that Nolan seems most uncomfortable discussing; Hart eventually became so addicted to late-night carousing that he aggravated his more prudish partner. Rodgers finally paired up with Oscar Hammerstein shortly before Hart's death in 1943 to compose the immortal Oklahoma!, which launched the modern musical era. A sympathetic account for fans of the musical theater of the '30s and '40s. (15 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-19-506837-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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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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