I COULD NEVER BE SO LUCKY AGAIN

THE MEMOIRS OF GENERAL JAMES H. 'JIMMY' DOOLITTLE

The reminiscences of an authentic American hero who, while best known for leading a bold airstrike against Japan early in WW II, has made his mark in a wealth of other endeavors. If the memoirs at hand read more like a bare-bones flight log than a reflective autobiography, they at least afford an engrossing record of a remarkable and eventful life. With editorial assistance from Glines (Attack on Yamamoto, Four Came Home, etc.), Doolittle (who turns 95 in October) looks back on seven decades of conspicuous accomplishment as a pilot, military officer, scholar, and businessman. Raised in gold-rush Alaska, the diminutive author earned spending money as a teenaged prizefighter and hard-rock miner. Attracted by the adventure of aviation, he left college in 1917 (one semester shy of a degree) to enlist in the US Army's Air Service. Doolittle won his wings but did not get overseas. After the Armistice, he stayed on to gain renown for the fledgling Air Corps and for himself as a daredevil stunt pilot and racer. The author also earned a Ph.D. at MIT, making substantive contributions to the emergent science of aeronautics. With a growing family to support, however, he resigned his commission in 1930 to accept a lucrative position with Shell Petroleum. Doolittle's corporate post kept him in the limelight, but his greatest acclaim lay ahead. Having rejoined the Army after war broke out in Europe, he organized and led the so-called ``Doolittle Raid'' that helped stem steady reverses in the Pacific theater and that won the author a general's stars and the Congressional Medal of Honor. Since WW II, Doolittle, an outspoken crusader for air power, has served on high-profile commissions and fared well in private enterprise. Doolittle makes a fine job of recalling his public triumphs and setbacks; beyond pro-forma tributes to his wife, though, he acknowledges or dramatizes almost no personal joys or sorrows (even the 1955 suicide of the author's son is dealt with in summary fashion). This cavil apart, a captivating account of a genuinely inspiring career. (Three 16-page photo inserts—not seen.)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-553-07807-0

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1991

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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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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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