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Revealing details of this fraught era couched in an overly self-aggrandizing tone.

The first black graduate of the University of Mississippi pontificates on his place in civil rights history.

In this somewhat hyperbolic memoir of his challenges to white supremacy in Mississippi in the 1960s, Meredith displays little doubt of his importance to the movement. Born in Kosciusko, Miss., in 1933, Meredith was the great-grandson of the Confederate legal officer J.A.P. Campbell, who later fashioned Mississippi’s code of white supremacy, and the son of a hardworking farmer with the “wisdom of a prophet” who inspired Meredith with a “divine responsibility to save the black race.” Inferiority to whites was not acceptable to Meredith, and nearly a decade in the Air Force proved a severe trial, especially when the only time he experienced fairness and respect was while stationed in Japan in the late ’50s. He vowed that to be a man, he had to force change back home. Completing a degree in political science at Ole Miss, the “holiest temple of white supremacy in America,” had been an early dream, and his case was taken up by Medgar Evers, Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP, and eventually settled by the Supreme Court. The Little Rock Nine had cracked open Arkansas’s Central High School in 1957 with the help of U.S. combat troops, and Meredith, disdaining King’s efforts at nonviolent civil disobedience, hoped for the same powerful display of federal force. He got it. Surrounded by troops, he stood up to Gov. Ross Robert Barnett Jr. over two fraught weeks in September 1962 as the state and its defiant white citizens staged an insurrection against the Kennedy brothers. Meredith elaborates on his becoming irresistible to women, black and white, his shooting in 1966 and his uneasy relationship with civil rights leaders and politicians, and he ends with an urgent plea for hands-on improvement to public school education.

Revealing details of this fraught era couched in an overly self-aggrandizing tone.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-7472-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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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