A refreshing look at this still-much-debated world debacle.

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THE WORLD REMADE

AMERICA IN WORLD WAR I

A sturdy one-volume study of America’s role in World War I.

As a companion to historian Meyer’s A World Undone: The Story of the Great War, 1914-1918 (2006), which focused on Europe, this work focuses exclusively on America’s involvement in World War I, from its embrace of neutrality to “the law of selfishness” in plunging the U.S. into Europe’s conflagration in 1917. The author debunks many myths about America’s valiant intentions in joining the war, especially regarding President Woodrow Wilson’s sense of destiny on the world stage, and he closely examines why Wilson acquiesced to joining the fight. Indeed, Meyer devotes an entire chapter to “Why,” including the political pressure from the outrage of the Zimmermann Telegram and the sinking of the Lusitania by German torpedoes. Yet, wonders the author, was Britain “so deeply in debt to the United States that its defeat would have plunged the nation into depression”? Or was it true that if the U.S. did not join the effort, Wilson, “as president, would be left with no major part to play in the postwar settlement”? Meyer gives a good sense of America’s future at that negotiating table and Wilson’s celebrated role at Versailles as the leader of the free world. The author also looks at America’s path in arriving at that fraught moment—manipulated by the propaganda effort of the British communications campaign, vilifying the Germans, and the struggle to raise conscription and maintain morale at home. In alternate chapters, Meyer chronicles narrative back stories, such as the role of Col. Edward House in influencing the president and that of “Fighting Bob” La Follette, the congressman from Wisconsin who passionately argued that America had no quarrel with the German people and that Wilson needed to be held accountable. Meyer also examines the unprecedented restrictions on censorship called for by the Wilson administration, and, as an appendix, he includes Wilson’s “Program for Peace” in its entirety.

A refreshing look at this still-much-debated world debacle.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-553-39332-3

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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