A review of Shearer’s thin satirical treatise is like one of those trailers that you know contain all of the movie’s good parts Shearer’star of screen, (Spinal Tap), TV (The Simpsons), amd radio (his own show)” wonders why some people hate Clinton so much when he really hasn’t been all that bad a president. Things are pretty good, if a bit dull; Clinton wanted to be Kennedy and ended up Eisenhower, but that’s no reason to hate him. Hate itself is not always bad, Shearer suggests, and he provides a list of things we really, and justifiably, hate: airline food, telemarketing, lists inserted in small books just to pad them. But why Clinton? Some supporters might hate him for his always safe positions (had he been a woman of his generation, he would have burned half his bra), but they don’t. Sure, some people got pretty upset after the Lewinsky thing—Democrats wanting to got reelected, for instance—but there are some people who hated him way before that. Culture has a lot to do with it, Shearer concludes. Clinton grew up southern poor, and he has offended that culture. He hangs around with rich Hollywood types. He married a northern girl. Of course, he cheated on her, but he still married her. He dodged the draft. Beyond regional reasons for hating Clinton is the fact that he has been self-righteous, and this has not served him well as his reckless exploits have become known. So even though Shearer finds most of Clinton’s deep enemies to be “cranks and bigots,” themselves “donning the raiment of moralists,” they have helped us see Clinton more clearly. In an odd way, Shearer concludes, William Jefferson Clinton may have gotten the enemies he deserves. Jonathan Swift’s reputation as a satirist will remain intact, but this book does offer about an hour’s worth of silly reading pleasure.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 1999

ISBN: 0-345-43401-3

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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