Intimate insights from one of America’s most prolific presidential authors.

A highly personal reflection on faith—in God, in humanity, and in oneself.

In his latest, Carter (A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety, 2015, etc.), well-known for his Christian beliefs and lifelong involvement in his local church, continues to investigate his faith. Though the narrative tends to ramble, the author provides ample wisdom and fascinating insights into his past. While mostly about the divine, faith, he writes, touches on other aspects of life as well: “There is another kind of faith, perhaps more difficult to sustain: having a firm belief in yourself and in other people, or in a seemingly impossible dream.” He stresses the importance of having faith in our neighbor and, when warranted, in government. Nevertheless, it is religious faith to which the former president most often refers, and in the book’s most meaningful passages, he explores the story of his own struggles with faith and with doubt. While he was in the Navy, immersed in the new science of nuclear energy, Carter turned to the writings of liberal contemporary theologians such as Rudolf Bultmann and the Niebuhr brothers to reconcile his traditional Christian background with the modern world in which he was living and working. Carter’s father’s death, election losses, and his own struggle with cancer all further shaped his faith. “To me, ‘faith’ is not just a noun but also a verb,” he notes, meaning that a life lived in faith brings about answers to questions and guidance along life’s path. Of course, politics feature prominently in the book, as well; throughout, the former president discusses domestic and foreign policy as he lived it and as it stands today. There are curmudgeonly moments, unfortunately, when Carter dwells on how everything in America seems to have worsened over time, but overall the tone is positive. “My faith is the key to my optimism,” he writes.

Intimate insights from one of America’s most prolific presidential authors.

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-8441-3

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2018


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



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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