The Man from Plains continues his admirable post-White House literary career (An Outdoor Journal, 1988, etc.) with a blow-by-blow account of his first run for office, in 1962. It's not quite Robert Penn Warren meets Frank Capra, but close enough, as a wet-eared newcomer pits his goodwill and little else against the corrupt local Democratic machine. Carter, a 38-year-old peanut farmer and liberal integrationist, doesn't know what he's up against when he makes a bid for the Georgia state senate against an incumbent controlled by good-ole-boy segregationist Joe Hurst. But the "Coons and Carters Go Together" signs should have tipped Carter off: 1962 is the year of the Supreme Court's bombshell one-man, one-vote decision, and the whites-only crowd—which controls every important political office in the state—doesn't cotton to new southerners—like Carter—who refuse to join the neighborhood White Citizens Council. After a glance at his family history—his father was a segregationist but his mother, the beloved Miss Lillian, befriended blacks—Carter plunges into memories of the primary campaign, a two-week affair that culminates in a blatantly rigged election. Boss Hurst bullies voters in the booth and tears up ballots he doesn't like. What's more, it seems that the good citizens voted in alphabetical order, and that the local graveyard contributed its share of ballots. An outraged Carter challenges, but the party machine ignores his complaints. Then a crusading reporter and a wily attorney get on the case, the results are reversed, Carter wins the nomination and the general election, and heads for the White House. Justice triumphs moat satisfyingly here, with enough cliffhangers to keep readers glued. Carter, who looks better with each passing year, tacks on an appendix describing the Atlanta Project, his ambitious program to help the urban poor.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0812922999

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1992

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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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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