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Although he promises important new information about Joseph Conrad's life, most of what is new in this hefty biography from Meyers (D.H. Lawrence, 1990, etc.) is of minor significance. For a great writer, Conrad had an unusual life, growing up as the child of Polish revolutionaries, becoming a young seaman in English merchant ships, sailing to the Far East, commanding a small steamship penetrating the depths of the Congo, and struggling against huge odds to write in English some of the greatest stories and novels of the past century. All this has been covered by Jocelyn Baines (1960), Norman Sherry (1966, 1971), Frederick R. Karl (1979), and most importantly by Zdzislaw Najder (1983). Drawing on these and on the now-appearing collection of Conrad's letters, plus occasional other items recently come to light, Meyers has thrown together a decent survey of what is known of Conrad's life, together with some minor additions and speculations of his own. But this is not a critical biography, and it is certainly not a major new interpretation of the life and works. Meyers it seems mainly wants to show off new bits of biographical trivia that he has accumulated. The level of much of this is demonstrated by the concluding sentence of chapter three: ``In fact, his life had been radically changed—for the third time—by a series of events that began with an infection between his buttocks.'' In a self-justifying preface, Meyers claims to present new information about many aspects of Conrad's life, ``most importantly, his love affair in 1916 with the wild and beautiful American journalist Jane Anderson, who became a traitor in World War Two.'' And Meyers does breathlessly tell more about her, thanks largely to an old lover and her FBI file. But by his later years Conrad was no longer writing anything of interest anyway, so what influence this fling and she had was of little consequence. And so is most of what is ``new'' in this book.

Pub Date: April 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-684-19230-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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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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