POLAR DREAM

THE HEROIC SAGA OF THE FIRST SOLO JOURNEY BY A WOMAN AND HER DOG TO THE POLE

Simple, appealing account of a woman's solo ski trek to the magnetic North Pole. Thayer's goal isn't the imaginary dot at the top of the globe that bedeviled Peary and Cook but, rather, the spot to which all compasses point, some 800 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Nonetheless, this is a formidable journey filled with dangers, including horrendous cold (wind chills of -100 F.), dangerous ice, polar bears, and exhaustion. What's more, no woman has ever done this before, and Thayer is 50 years old when she sets out. After 27 grueling days towing a 160-pound sled, she makes it. One reason is her fortitude; the other is a black husky named Charlie (``there was something about him I thought I could trust and I decided to take him with me,'' she writes in her unadorned manner). Charlie squirrels his way into Thayer's affections for good reason, since many times he saves her from polar bears on the attack. Thayer's encounters with these white-furred killing machines are terrifying. Once, she walks toward what looks like a cute cub only to find that it's a voracious adult; another time, Charlie's heroics involve locking his jaws on a bear's leg. Thayer never minces her fear (``the pit of my stomach was an ice-cube, even my knees were shaking''), and, at one point, she breaks down and sobs, but her eyelids freeze tight: ``There could be no more crying on this expedition.'' She endures storms, fog, starvation, thirst, and a desperate flight over cracking ice. Today, Charlie is snug on the homestead in Washington State, and Thayer is planning an expedition—with her husband—to the North Pole itself. Enough feminine overtones (tears, worry about eyelashes, plus the voice of a middle-aged woman) to make a solid, no-frills adventure for women as well as men. (Eight pages of color photographs—not seen.) (First serial rights to Cosmopolitan)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-79386-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1992

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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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