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THE CONFIDANTE

CONDOLEEZZA RICE AND THE CREATION OF THE BUSH LEGACY

Good for newcomers seeking insight into contemporary foreign policy.

Journalistic account of Condoleezza Rice’s tenure as Secretary of State from a veteran reporter who covered it for the Washington Post.

Although Rice is the focal point, this is really a history of the last three years in international affairs. Kessler delivers fly-on-the-wall coverage as the most powerful woman in the world travels the earth attempting to cool off global hotspots. His chatty chapter titles (“Rebirth in Paris,” “Passage to New Delhi,” Blowup Over Beirut”) belie a deeply reported analysis. Kessler paints Rice as a smart, sophisticated diplomat stuck between a bellicose administration and an increasingly restless global community. After 9/11, this scholar of Soviet Russia trained in the realist school of foreign policy suddenly adopted her president’s messianic worldview, favoring the promotion of democracy at the expense of all else. Her handlers try to position Rice for an eventual White House run, but Kessler argues that her tenure as Secretary has left the country in a far worse position than she found it. She failed, he argues, to articulate a serious vision for the future and is undercut by elements in the administration, such as Cheney and Rumsfeld, who favor a more isolationist approach. The book doesn’t cover very much new ground, instead providing an in-depth look at how decisions of world-historical importance get made. Those looking for gossipy speculation about what motivates the unmarried Rice, a child of Southern segregation turned Stanford provost, will be disappointed. Readers curious about what really happens when she sits across from her counterparts in Riyadh, Khartoum and Baghdad will find this up-the-minute account revealing.

Good for newcomers seeking insight into contemporary foreign policy.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-312-36380-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2007

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NIGHT

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

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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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