This book won't change the way you think about Leary, but it does reveal, to the extent that anything can, the person behind...

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THE TIMOTHY LEARY PROJECT

INSIDE THE GREAT COUNTERCULTURE EXPERIMENT

A look at the life of Timothy Leary (1920-1996) through the documents preserved in his archive.

Depending on your point of view, Leary was either a guru or a charlatan. Actually, he was a little bit of both. With Richard Alpert (now known as Ram Dass), he initiated the Harvard Psilocybin Project in 1960 to research the effect of hallucinogens. A few years later, when he was dismissed from the university, he moved to Millbrook, New York, and helped jump-start the psychedelic movement. As this collection of documents from the archive reminds us, Leary’s story is complex. Indeed, the writings here—including Leary’s notes and commentary as well as correspondence from Allen Ginsberg, Aldous Huxley, Eldridge Cleaver, and other significant figures—highlight Leary’s belief in consciousness expansion, which he saw as the evolutionary purpose of humanity. Arranged and annotated by Ulrich, who cataloged this material for the New York Public Library, the collection is a mixed bag, and there is little new for readers who already know Leary’s life and work. At the same time, it can be revealing, if also more than a little hagiographic, to see it through primary sources. “Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle,” Leary once said. “Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected.” The advice is unexpectedly pragmatic and, in some ways, speaks to the intentions of the volume, which seeks to operate as a controlled cacophony. “The letters and papers offered in this book,” Ulrich writes in the introduction, “…serve as a unique insight into a period in history that has been obscured by its own myth-making.” The Leary we find here is a version of the one we know already, both con man and visionary. Given the subject, how could it be otherwise?

This book won't change the way you think about Leary, but it does reveal, to the extent that anything can, the person behind the myth.

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2646-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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