A solid tale of a momentous event—for those who need another or want to pick up a few unknown nuggets from a man who was...

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NOVEMBER 22, 1963

WITNESS TO HISTORY

An eyewitness rehash of the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Veteran journalist Aynesworth (JFK: Breaking the News, 2003, etc.), then a reporter with the Dallas Morning News, was not on assignment but chatting with friends in Dealey Plaza when JFK was shot by Lee Harvey Oswald. With a pencil bought from a nearby child, he began taking notes on the backs of utility bills. His eyewitness articles on the assassination and both the arrest and killing of Oswald won him accolades as the reporter who owned the assassination story. This book, first published 10 years ago and now reissued to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination, offers a vivid recounting of those chaotic days. Many other books offer fuller, more thoughtful accounts, but Aynesworth’s just-the-facts reporting can raise goose bumps. The entire bizarre cast is here: ex-Marine shooter Oswald; strip-club owner Jack Ruby, the unsavory and unstable character who killed the assassin, shouting, “You rat son of a bitch!”; and Marguerite Oswald, the assassin’s combative mother. Readers alive at the time will have forgotten many details, such as the fact that six reporters served as Oswald’s pallbearers. Aynesworth takes delight in noting the inaccuracies in the first report from the scene by United Press International  reporter Merriman Smith, who physically prevented the AP reporter from phoning in news of the assassination. The author dismisses all conspiracy theories, blaming them on the “pervasive influence” of Oswald, an “inadequate mope” who appeared incapable of such a crime; Ruby, who acted spontaneously (and did not know Oswald); and the excesses of early conspiracy theorists Mark Lane and Jim Garrison.

A solid tale of a momentous event—for those who need another or want to pick up a few unknown nuggets from a man who was there.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-61254-127-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Brown Books

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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