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A brisk, entertaining, and richly detailed portrait of a unique woman and her era.

The life of a prodigious playwright is set in the context of roiling political dramas.

In 1670, with the London opening of her play The Forc’d Marriage, Aphra Behn (1640-1689) launched a career as one of the most prolific dramatists of Restoration England. In a revision of her biography of Behn published in 1996, Todd (A Man of Genius, 2016, etc.), editor of the seven-volume Complete Works of Aphra Behn, The Poetry of Aphra Behn, and the journal Aphra Behn Studies, offers an authoritative portrait of a defiant, wily, and enterprising woman. Todd acknowledges that much scholarship has been undertaken in the 20 years since her original biography, and she cites about two dozen of these studies in her bibliography; however, they seem to have affirmed, rather than altered, her shrewd, sweeping view of 17th-century England and the admiring portrait she ably fashioned in her earlier book. Tall, attractive, and witty, Behn was “gregarious, enjoying an evening of sociability,” and fond of drink. She was “sensual as much as sexual, interested in both men and women,” and likely preferred “flirtation and repartee” as a way of avoiding venereal disease and pregnancy. She was adventuresome as well, traveling to the British colony of Surinam, probably as a spy, in the early 1660s, returning as Mrs. Behn; scholars have been unable to identify the mysterious Mr. Behn. A comely widow, she was courted by the “moody and self-centered” Jack Hoyle, with whom she fell in love. “Behn would desire other men sexually,” Todd asserts, “but no one rivalled Jack Hoyle in her imaginative and emotional life.” Steeped as she is in Behn’s work, Todd gives close, perceptive readings of her oeuvre, including her abundant output of poetry; where relevant, she connects these works to the politics of the time: the clash of Catholicism and Protestantism, the rise of Tories and Whigs, and the fraught royal succession. Her “political principles were those of a ‘pseudo-aristocrat’ ” who “internalized” upper-class views and pretensions.

A brisk, entertaining, and richly detailed portrait of a unique woman and her era.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-909572-06-5

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Fentum Press

Review Posted Online: April 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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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