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A worthy work that draws on previously unknown correspondence to give a lively, from-the-saddle view of life as a rebel...

A sturdy life of the Confederacy’s knight-errant, “the bold and dashing cavalier” who evoked chivalry in a theater of carnage and slaughter.

Born in 1833 in Virginia, James Ewell Brown Stuart was a middling cadet at West Point and a touch undistinguished as an officer on the Western frontier, where the Comanches managed to elude his cavalry scouts. Nevertheless, writes Civil War historian Wert (The Sword of Lincoln: The Army of the Potomac, 2005, etc.), Stuart advanced in the officers’ ranks in the federal army. Perhaps his crowning moment was serving alongside senior officer Robert E. Lee in suppressing the abolitionist John Brown’s attack on the armory at Harpers Ferry. Stuart sided with Virginia in the secession and, owing in part to his friendship with Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson and Lee, particularly the former, he achieved high command in the Confederate forces. Though pious and a nonsmoker and nondrinker, Stuart was Jackson’s opposite in taking a joyous view of life, a lightness that delighted his soldiers, even if many complained that he was also a stern taskmaster and even tyrant who told his soldiers on the battlefield, “You don’t want to go back to camp I know; it’s stupid there and all the fun is out here.” Under Stuart, Virginia troops approached the federal capital several times; the Virginia cavalry also did outstanding service at battles across the state. Stuart was brave and daring, writes Wert, if too sensitive to his public image. His vaunted charge at Gettysburg was tactically questionable and cost many lives, and in the retreat he broke from Lee’s force to conduct an ill-advised raid, which leads Wert to conclude that “Stuart failed Lee and the army in the reckoning at Gettysburg.” It would not be the last poor decision Stuart made, but he had the good fortune—doubtless Stuart would have considered it such—to be felled in battle and be enlisted in the Confederate pantheon.

A worthy work that draws on previously unknown correspondence to give a lively, from-the-saddle view of life as a rebel horseman.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-7432-7819-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2008

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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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