Despite the title, Evans’s memoir is more than relevant in the age of computer news; good reporting still demands what Evans...

One of the great editors of our era chronicles his life in news reporting and book publishing.

As editor of the London Sunday Times and The Times, and later as president and publisher of Random House, Evans (War Stories: Reporting in the Time of Conflict from the Crimea to Iraq, 2003, etc.) not only told the stories that changed the social and political world, he often was part of them. He began life as the son of working-class parents in 1930s Manchester, England. Early on he became aware of two things: the seemingly magical way in which newspapers would deliver a torrent of information, and the demarcations of success that were “ordained by the hierarchies of class.” Yet rise Evans did. The author is at his best recounting daily life in war-torn England and his early efforts to become a newspaper man. He lovingly describes the smells (“lead, antimony, and tin…hot metal marinated with printer’s ink” in the typesetting room) and noise (a cacophony of manual typewriters and animated phone calls) of his chosen profession. More important, Evans presents a narrative of stories and their consequences: the failure of the British health system to provide women with simple screening for cervical cancer; the official ignorance of the pollution that was literally choking the life out of Northern England; the willful failure to recognize and act on the struggles of children born without limbs after their mothers took Thalidomide. In these and many other cases, Evans exposed the “vast official carelessness” that permeated British political life. Of his life in America, which began in the ’80s, Evans says relatively little, outside of a few anecdotes of signing book contracts with such luminaries as Marlon Brando, Richard Nixon and a then-unknown politician, Barack Obama. A second volume, covering these years, would be most welcome.

Despite the title, Evans’s memoir is more than relevant in the age of computer news; good reporting still demands what Evans exemplifies here—honesty, courage and dogged determination.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-316-03142-4

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009


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

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