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The R T Hon Lord is once more at large. We can only hope he reamains “on the out,” never to serve again.

Prisoner number FF8282 completes his jailhouse trilogy (A Prison Diary, 2003, Purgatory, 2004).

Following the pattern of earlier incarcerated writers such as Cervantes, Raleigh, Wilde and Hitler, Archer is now out and free. In this final volume, the diary of the former member of the House of Lords shows him captive for most of the time in a minimum security facility, a place Her Majesty’s Prisoners (HMP) never “escape” from, though they may, sometimes, “abscond.” A feature of the open prison, for those deserving, is town leave. Even then, though, there’s still the stultifying bureaucracy he finds so tedious as the days pass and inmates come and go. Drug testing is a signal event, while noise and naughty language still offend his ever helpful lordship, still noble despite the inequities heaped upon him. He signs a “Change of Labour Request” as “The R T Hon The Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare,” and the request is denied. Archer spends time editing and reediting another potboiler (Sons of Fortune, 2003) and hosting a Sunday tea club for older felons. He gets a sinecure as hospital orderly but is still beleaguered by a hostile press and spying inmates. Home Secretary David Blunkett remains deaf to his entreaties, and Mr. Justice Potts, who sentenced him (for perjury), continues to embody unbridled malevolence. Wife Mary remains stalwart, however, and Archer continues to appreciate good art, particularly a modern illustration for The Wind in the Willows depicting Toad in jail. Withal, he must endure “the prisoner’s biggest enemy, boredom,” a sensation of which he manages to convey quite effectively. Thus his “tariff” passes, from day 89 (15 October 2001) through day 457 (18 October 2002), when Archer, put back into a more secure prison, abandons his journal until day 725 (21 July 2003), when he’s released.

The R T Hon Lord is once more at large. We can only hope he reamains “on the out,” never to serve again.

Pub Date: July 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-312-34217-9

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2005

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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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