WHAT HAPPENED

A touch too reserved and polite, given the circumstances, and in need of supplementing by hard-edged books like Jonathan...

Gracious, sometimes-wonkish post-mortem of the last presidential election by its surprise loser, who still can’t quite believe…well, what happened.

“I ran for President because I thought I’d be good at the job,” writes Clinton (Hard Choices, 2014, etc.), modestly. She adds, a touch less demurely, “I thought that of all the people who might run, I had the most relevant experience, meaningful accomplishments, and ambitious but achievable proposals, as well as the temperament to get things done in Washington.” Against her was arrayed a field of Republican candidates that included the one no one took seriously—but also, as the author notes in a reckoning that is remarkably measured, a whole cultural and political field of opponents, including Russian hackers and a grudge-bearing Vladimir Putin, the crew of WikiLeaks, Bernie Sanders and his devout followers, misogyny, and a few missteps that, refreshingly, Clinton’s not shy about owning up to. (One takeaway: don’t campaign with pneumonia. Take a day off.) Of the many enemies, writes the author, misogyny was likely the most intractable, even given James Comey, the screams about emails, voter suppression, and Donald Trump’s hammering away about “lying Hillary,” to say nothing about looming behind her creepily in debate. Mostly, Clinton campaigned against anger, and she could never quite get a handle on how to reckon with it. Pundits have since insisted that Clinton should have spoken more from the heart and been less managed, which isn’t really how politics is done—well, until Trump came along and opened the door to a post-truth America. Of all the upshots, that truth business seems to be what bothers Clinton most, but mostly she’s understandably amazed, as are so many, to have gone to bed in one America and awoken in another: “I picture future historians scratching their heads, trying to understand what happened. I’m still scratching mine, too.”

A touch too reserved and polite, given the circumstances, and in need of supplementing by hard-edged books like Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’ Shattered. Still, a useful book to read—and, for many, to mourn over.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7556-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2017

NIGHT

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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