A wisely chosen, expertly arranged collection.

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LINCOLN ON WAR

One of the world’s foremost Lincoln scholars offers a selection of the president’s writings and remarks on war, its conduct, trials, horror and meaning.

From his inauguration to his assassination, Lincoln fulfilled the role of commander in chief so skillfully as to become a model for succeeding presidents—reason enough, Holzer (Lincoln and New York, 2009, etc.) argues, to understand clearly the Lincoln record. For this project’s purposes, the author divides the president’s career into three parts: the young Lincoln, a period that included his brief, volunteer captaincy during the Black Hawk War and his stint as a dovish Congressman opposed to the Mexican War; the presidency from 1861 to ’62, during which Lincoln struggled to master warfare’s tools and tactics, to govern his military and civilian subordinates and to shape public opinion; and the war’s final years, when the slaughter only increased before Lincoln’s will and wisdom finally prevailed. From speeches and letters (sent and unsent), grand declarations, official messages and proclamations, orders, telegrams and instructions, hasty memoranda, informal notes and revealing private comments, Holzer assembles the president’s thinking on war, prefacing each selection with helpful remarks providing necessary context. Some of these documents are famous—e.g., the Gettysburg Address—while others are obscure. Some contain deathless rhetoric since memorized by all Americans, while some are merely homespun words (e.g., his battle advice to U.S. Grant: “Hold on with a bulldog gripe [sic] and chew & choke, as much as possible”) that demonstrate simultaneously Lincoln’s untutored prairie origins, his talent for the arresting phrase and his military resolve. All combine to illustrate the Holzer’s thesis that Lincoln, without ever taking the field, waged war with “the most powerful weapon at his disposal: his pen.”

A wisely chosen, expertly arranged collection.

Pub Date: April 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-56512-378-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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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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