A gift for those interested in the history of American art and the history of feminism.

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BECOMING JUDY CHICAGO

A BIOGRAPHY OF THE ARTIST

An engrossing, vivid study of the life and work of one of America’s most important feminist artists.

Levin (Art/Baruch Coll. and The Graduate Center, CUNY; Edward Hooper: An Intimate Biography, 2005, etc.) turns her attention to Judy Chicago (born in 1939), tracing Chicago’s early interest in art, exploring her psychological reaction to her father’s early death and chronicling her first brief marriage. The artist’s commitment to feminism was forged in that marriage: Long before it was fashionable, Chicago insisted that spouses share housework, once exclaiming to her husband, “What makes you think that because, by a biological accident, I was born with a cunt, I am supposed to pick up your socks?” Those feminist convictions soon found expression in her work. Her first major work of feminist art was her 1972 Womanhouse, a multimedia installation that explored the ways in which women have been oppressed by domestic expectations. The author strikes just the right balance between Chicago’s oeuvre and her life, offering frank discussion of Chicago’s complex second marriage, careful attention to Chicago’s relationship with Judaism and a thoughtful examination of Chicago’s feminist pedagogy. But the most arresting section is devoted to Chicago’s masterpiece, The Dinner Party. Levin captures what an artistic challenge The Dinner Party posed for her subject, and spells out the personal and financial sacrifices she made in order to complete the massive work. Though this is not an authorized biography, Chicago was cooperative and generous with Levin, who seems to have unfettered access not only to Chicago’s papers, but to dozens and dozens of people she knew and worked with, including ex-lovers, students, relatives and friends. The book is marred only by Levin’s slightly stilted prose.

A gift for those interested in the history of American art and the history of feminism.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2007

ISBN: 1-4000-5412-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

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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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