Writing with Paisner (coauthor of books with former New York mayor Ed Koch and talk-show celebs Geraldo Rivera and Montel Williams), New York governor Pataki reminds New Yorkers why they should vote him in his as-yet-unannounced reelection bid and sends up a trial balloon for politicos wondering if he might become the next Republican wonder boy on the national scene. His is the classic second-generation-American-makes-good story. The Hungarian Patakis were poor farmers in Peekskill, NY; George worked hard on the farm; they didn’t have much, but they were rich in other ways, i.e., the important social and moral ways that ultimately enabled him to understand, say, how to reform welfare. The son of a mailman, George went to Yale and then Columbia Law School. He tried the large corporate law-firm scene but didn’t really have the stomach for it. Pataki turned to politics, where he served first as Peekskill’s mayor and then eventually as a state representative. Finally, after winning races that no one thought he could, he took on Democratic demigod Mario Cuomo and won. The book chronicles a little of that race but mostly focuses on Pataki’s roots, which he clumsily uses to enlighten readers about his Republican public policies. His summer stint on the coal cars at the nearby Fleischmann’s factory, for instance, enabled him, he says, to have “enormous respect for people who work in production and manufacturing.” That led to the theory that “we need enlightened employers who understand that the employees are part of a team, that they have an obligation to protect workers and an interest in helping them succeed.” A thinly veiled campaign tool that might be a useful history for political reporters, pundits, and politicians wondering what makes Pataki tick, but as interesting reading for the general public? Fuhgeddaboutit.

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-87339-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998


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



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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