Indifferent writing and tut-tutting and shallow criticism conspire to make this of interest mostly to completist collectors.

New biography of the youngest, gloomiest Beatle.

It may come as news to some fans of the spiritually minded Harrison that, by Thomson’s (Under the Ivy: The Life and Music of Kate Bush, 2010, etc.) account, he was as sexually promiscuous as many of his fellow musicians: “He seduced one young woman days before the Concert for Bangladesh, and even made overtures to another in the wings during the concert itself.” It may come as news to others that Harrison, once pioneering in his blend of Eastern and Western musical traditions, was a sonic fuddy-duddy in his later years: “Rap stinks,” he pronounced, “and techno is humanless music coming out of computers that bring you to madness.” That seems stern for someone who introduced Moogs to Beatlemaniacs and had no qualms about setting Hare Krishna chants against pop backgrounds, but though Harrison never advertised himself as a saint, Thomson seems always surprised that Harrison was, from the earliest age, a smoker, drinker and drugger—in other words, a rock musician. The author covers his subject from cradle to grave, a span of time that has been thoroughly covered by other writers, on some of whom he relies too heavily. The result is a plethora of old news, including the well-worn observation that it was George who taught John Lennon how to tune a guitar. The writing is seldom distinguished, too often pockmarked by forced observations that the refrain of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” “seemed to capture something of Harrison’s growing ambivalence as The Beatles dragged themselves around the United States for the second summer in a row” and that “like an alcoholic with the bottle, no Beatle was ever freed from the grip of the Fab Four.”

Indifferent writing and tut-tutting and shallow criticism conspire to make this of interest mostly to completist collectors.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4683-1065-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Overlook

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014


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

Close Quickview