A sorry story of war-time collaboration, exacerbated by the lack of reckoning during her lifetime.

READ REVIEW

SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY

COCO CHANEL'S SECRET WAR

Tenacious digging into secret wartime records reveals a worsening case for the legendary French designer.

That Chanel took a German officer as a lover during the French Occupation is not news—his status allowed her to keep her luxury apartments in the Ritz Hotel during the war and pass freely among restricted areas. Yet the extent of her collaboration has been vigorously denied for years. Questioned before a French tribunal right after the war, Chanel was swiftly released by the beneficent intervention of Winston Churchill, her old friend, and warned to get out of town. Relocated to Switzerland, she was soon joined by the very German lover in question: Baron Hans Gunther von Dincklage, an agent for the German military espionage service, who had been stationed in Paris since the mid-’30s to build a Nazi propaganda network in France. Roving journalist and diplomat Vaughan (FDR’s 12 Apostles: The Spies Who Paved the Way for the Invasion of North Africa, 2006, etc.) sifts through the shifting lives of Gabrielle Chanel, born in 1883 to a poor mother and itinerant father, and farmed off to a Catholic orphanage by age 12. She continually remade herself, from seamstress to café singer to mistress of rich, worldly men, who set her up in business. Her most influential paramour (for her postwar career) would prove to be the profligate Bendor, the Duke of Westminster, and Churchill’s good friend. Together, Bendor and Chanel could indulge their anti-Semitic, pro-German views. Cooperating with the Nazis helped free Chanel’s nephew from a German POW camp, while the newly instated Aryanizing of Jewish businesses promised the chance to wrest her lucrative perfume firm from the hands of the Wertheimer family, to whom she had sold it years before. Well rendered by Vaughan, the details grow continually more sordid, from Chanel and Dincklage’s trip to Madrid and Berlin to try to influence high-level British circles in 1943, to Chanel’s drug addiction.

A sorry story of war-time collaboration, exacerbated by the lack of reckoning during her lifetime.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-59263-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more