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Hemming has uncovered a man determined not to be known and in so doing, has provided us with delightful reading.

The dramatic story of the remarkable British spymaster who may have been the model for the James Bond character M.

Maxwell Knight (1900-1968) recruited men and women who were quiet but intense, naturalists like him—though he was unlikely to find anyone as devoted to a wide variety of exotic animals. He looked for those who could work unnoticed, efficiently listening, remembering, and reporting what went on in communist and fascist organizations. Searching for a livelihood after World War I, Knight joined Sir George Makgill’s private intelligence agency. Makgill worked for industrialists worried about labor unions and the rise of communism. Knight’s first assignment was to join the British Fascists—which, in the 1920s, was not yet politically abhorrent—and to find potential recruits, an easy task given his mystical magnetism. At this time, he was friends with William Joyce, who would become, during World War II, the treasonous Lord Haw-Haw. They joined the paramilitary wing of the BF, where Knight learned the spy trades of kidnapping and his specialty, breaking and entering. In 1929, Knight was recruited by MI5 to fight communism, eventually leading the M Section. His “grey people” learned to become small and insignificant, remembering everything and hoping no one remembered them. Knight directed his people like he once ran his jazz band: moderating tempo, watching overall direction, and improvising when necessary. Hiring Anna Wolkoff to work as a secretary for the Communist Party was a stroke of genius, helping to break up a spy ring. Knight’s M section was more right-wing, daring, more maverick than others. It was also the most independent, economical, and unconventional. Many spy stories are page-turners, but the author proves that the story of one man can be equally thrilling.

Hemming has uncovered a man determined not to be known and in so doing, has provided us with delightful reading.

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61039-684-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017

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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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