A book both educational and emotional.

THE LEAGUE OF WIVES

THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE WOMEN WHO TOOK ON THE U.S. GOVERNMENT TO BRING THEIR HUSBANDS HOME

A Vietnam War story about the mostly unreported role of military wives who ignored protocol to help free their husbands, held as prisoners of war, from torture by the North Vietnamese.

Relying on extensive personal interviews and previously unseen documents, Lee (Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause, 2014) builds to February 1973, when 115 American POWs departed North Vietnam on U.S. military transport planes to receive health care, debriefings, and finally emergence into public view. Many of the American airmen never thought they would be shot from the sky, captured, and tortured—partly because of their ultraconfidence in their training, partly because they severely underestimated the fighting capabilities of the North Vietnamese military. Their wives back in the States, many with children, naturally felt desperate to learn the fates of their husbands. However, commanders in the American military services and diplomats in the U.S. State Department told them, often in condescending fashion, to remain quiet and docile so that negotiations with the enemy could proceed. Eventually, after years of excruciating worry, the wives of the prisoners—as well as fliers missing in action—began to actively discuss how to remedy the situation. As more years passed with no progress, wives on bases scattered around the country began organizing together. Lee’s cast of determined women is extensive and occasionally difficult to track as they enter and depart the narrative. Two of the most prominent are Sybil Stockdale (husband Jim) and Jane Denton (husband Jeremiah). (The renowned John McCain does not play a major role in the narrative.) In addition to the wrenching personal stories, the author handles context gracefully, especially regarding the wives and their ability to find their voices amid the continuing saga of an unjust war. “If these military wives hadn’t rejected the ‘keep quiet’ policy and spoken out,” she writes, “the POWs might have been left to languish in prison.”

A book both educational and emotional.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-16110-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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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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