PATAKI

WHERE I COME FROM

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1998

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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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