A robust, engaging and exciting biography.

ADA'S ALGORITHM

HOW LORD BYRON'S DAUGHTER ADA LOVELACE LAUNCHED THE DIGITAL AGE

The story of Ada Lovelace (1815-1852), the brilliant mathematician and the daughter of the poet Lord Byron, who likely wrote the first computer program in the early 1840s. Due to her gender, however, her research was overlooked, and another two centuries passed before computers became a reality.

Despite the fact that Ada was Lord Byron’s only legitimate daughter, her mother deemed him unfit to raise her and left him when Ada was just 1 month old. Her father’s reputation made Ada famous by association, and throughout her life, this recognition connected her with some of the era’s most interesting and accomplished people, including the mathematician Charles Babbage. As a child, Ada was fascinated by mathematics and demonstrated an “imaginative approach to science.” Through sheer force of will, she managed to obtain an education rarely available to women in the 19th century and was therefore able to recognize the profound potential in Babbage’s lifelong obsession, a machine he called the “Analytical Engine,” designed to make calculations. Babbage considered his invention to be purely mathematical, but Ada realized that the possibilities were much grander—that the machine could be capable of “weav[ing] algebraical patterns,” a sophisticated idea that did not yet exist at the time. In her writings, she clearly laid out these early concepts of computer science, but because she was female, she was essentially ignored. Essinger (Spellbound: The Surprising Origins and Astonishing Secrets of English Spelling, 2007, etc.) presents Ada’s story with great enthusiasm and rich detail, painting her life as one that was rich with opportunity and access but stifled by sexism. Ada continues to inspire, and by using her own voice via letters and research, the author brings her to life for a new generation of intrepid female innovators.

A robust, engaging and exciting biography.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2014

ISBN: 978-1612194080

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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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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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