Ross sweeps readers along in Rickenbacker’s thrilling tale.




Energetic look at the World War I ace’s early exploits through the prism of exciting modern changes in America.

In his passionately sympathetic biography, Ross (War on the Run: The Epic Story of Robert Rogers and the Conquest of America’s First Frontier, 2009, etc.) finds in Eddie Rickenbacker (1890-1973) a subject as brash, unassuming and heroic as the young American nation at the turn of the 20th century. The author admires the fact that the son of poor, German-speaking Swiss immigrants had so much going against him in the early years and overcame the obstacles through sheer hard work and determination. Luck, another quintessential American ingredient, favored him, as well as the ability to fudge the record when necessary, such as he did about the events surrounding the death of his belligerent father in 1904 after picking a fight with another laborer. At 13, Rickenbacker quit school and went to work, becoming head of the household and breadwinner. A natural leader, Rickenbacker adored mechanical tinkering and invention and parlayed his work in a machine shop into becoming “mechanician” at the Oscar Lear Automobile Company, racing state-of-the-art Frayer-Millers. “Engines have always talked to me,” he asserted, demonstrating his nearly “mystical” ways with them as he began proving himself a winner in races throughout the country. With the United States propelled into the European war in 1917, Rickenbacker talked his way past bigotry against German-Americans, his lack of a gentlemanly education and an eye injury and began flying lessons at Tours Aerodrome, essentially teaching himself in the fragile, unreliable Nieuports that the Germans outclassed in their mightier Albatroses. Aerial dogfights provided plenty of sobering danger and led to the deaths of many of his closest colleagues. In a few short months, Rickenbacker, with 26 kills, was a national hero.

Ross sweeps readers along in Rickenbacker’s thrilling tale.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-03377-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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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...


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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