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The fascinating story of a once-invincible man “who has made the best of the cards that life has dealt him but…revealed...

An engaging biography of the Olympic sprinter and convicted killer we thought we knew.

Carlin (Knowing Mandela: A Personal Portrait, 2013, etc.) reveals the likely impulses of Oscar Pistorius, the South African double-leg amputee and international symbol of courage and determination who shot and killed his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkamp, on Feb. 14, 2013. The peculiar circumstances of the shooting and the globally televised trial riveted the world. The author has sufficient access to provide seemingly direct narration from the crime scene. He describes Pistorius as "almost fainting from the rotting metal stench of her wounds, battling to get a purchase on her soaked, slippery frame….” He was "howling in despair" and "beseeching God to let her live.” Carlin recounts Pistorius' triumphant racing career and persona as a brave and invulnerable athlete ("half-man, half-machine") and reveals the self-delusion necessary to mask his desire to be seen as normal (the author explains how Pistorius, who is white, was adored by all races in post-apartheid South Africa. The first disabled runner to compete in the Olympic Games, his success embodied “what all races like to see as the indomitable national spirit.” However, following that tragic night in February 2013, Pistorius' image immediately changed from "the greatest national hero for South Africans of all races since Mandela" to a calculating criminal charged with premeditated murder. Overall, Carlin's reporting is detailed and quick-moving, aside from some overly detailed sections that some readers may skim—e.g., the crafting of Pistorius’ metal and silicone running blades in Iceland; encounters with his loyal, fervent devotees ("Pistorians"). The author offers complete and absorbing coverage of this bizarre story, removing the mask from a previously one-dimensional role model.

The fascinating story of a once-invincible man “who has made the best of the cards that life has dealt him but…revealed himself to possess to an equally extreme degree the insecurities that all are prey to.”

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-229706-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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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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