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A brisk chronicle of a strong-willed, tireless, and determined leader.

A celebratory biography of Africa’s first female president and 2011 Nobel Prize winner.

The Pulitzer Prize–winning Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times, Cooper (The House at Sugar Beach: In Search of a Lost African Childhood, 2008, etc.) traces the improbable career of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (b. 1938), a woman of spectacular political achievement. Drawing heavily on Sirleaf’s autobiography and interviews with her and her supporters, Cooper creates an admiring portrait that would have benefited from some distance, wider research, and more probing examination. Sirleaf perpetuated the legend that she was destined for greatness from birth, and after graduating from high school, she looked for ways to fulfill that prophecy. When reversed family fortunes precluded her going to Europe or America “to acquire finishing,” at 17, she married a Western-educated 24-year-old who seemed “suave and sophisticated.” After the births of four sons within the next few years, she felt frustrated about her future in sexist, desperately impoverished Liberia. When her husband went to Wisconsin for graduate study, she decided to go, too, to earn a business degree. Within a decade, she had left her abusive spouse, taken a position at Liberia’s Ministry of Finance and then an assignment as a loan officer at the World Bank, where “she began to build her international contacts with the Western leaders who controlled the purse strings for developing countries.” She proved herself adept at networking in financial circles, becoming a vice president at Citibank before moving to Equator Bank. With an invaluable financial career behind her, she entered politics. Cooper details the horrifying atrocities (dismemberments, rapes, mass executions) perpetrated by ruthless tyrants, the last of whom, Charles Taylor, Sirleaf initially backed. The author also reveals the support of these regimes by a succession of American administrations. Sirleaf won the presidency in 2005, inciting a violent backlash against women, including ritualistic killings. She was re-elected in 2011 despite charges of nepotism and corruption, which Cooper allows Sirleaf to defend.

A brisk chronicle of a strong-willed, tireless, and determined leader.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4516-9735-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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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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