Those with a truly intense interest in the administration of the Pulitzer Prizes might be able to find something mildly entertaining in this volume. The Pulitzer Prizes are more of an organizing theme than the actual subject of this book, which is essentially an autobiography. Hohenberg (The Pulitzer Prizes, 1974, etc.) was executive administrator of the prizes from 1954 to 1976, and he draws upon a personal diary from this time period to provide an account of his activities. The narrative is not limited to his Pulitzer work, however; the bulk of this volume is a recording of Hohenberg's wide-ranging professional activities and personal observations regarding major news events, notably conflict in postWW II China, the war in Vietnam and accompanying domestic discord, and the fall of Richard Nixon. Most of the commentary on the Pulitzers concerns the acrimony engendered within and by the Advisory Board whenever a jury's recommendations were not followed. No doubt this placed Hohenberg in an uncomfortable position as the man in the middle dealing with insulted jurors, disappointed nominees, and often a divided board, but this is hardly high drama for those not directly involved at the time. Controversial decisions deriving from the social conservatism of the board, undoubtedly the subject with the broadest potential interest, are warily noted without actually discussing them. For instance, the jury in 1960 recommended Lillian Hellman's Toys in the Attic for the drama award, but the board gave it to the musical Fiorello!; Hohenberg's sole commentary is, ``I was too stunned to say anything.'' This is a cautious account written by a devoted insider, not a titillating kiss-and-tell book. Adding to the tedium is a writing style that consists of dry, matter-of-fact prose interspersed with lengthy passages directly from Hohenberg's diary.

Pub Date: April 10, 1997

ISBN: 0-8156-0392-4

Page Count: 346

Publisher: Syracuse Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist



The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

Did you like this book?