Occasionally self-indulgent but intriguing memoir by the now-deceased Moynihan, chronicling the time he served as a Merchant Marine aboard the Rose City.

In the author’s first—and sadly, last—book, he discusses his adventures as a seaman on a brutal and unforgiving four-month journey around the world. His father, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, pulled strings to find his son a place on a ship taking what seemed to be a pleasure cruise around the Mediterranean; however, the young Moynihan was shocked when the journey turned out to be anything but a relaxing vacation. Initially advised to hide his distinguished origins, the details of his parentage quickly leaked, transforming his search for adventure into a miserable, lonely existence. The author laments his treatment at the hands of his fellow seamen and doesn’t seem to ever overcome this self-pity. The second half of the book focuses on the increasingly difficult physical conditions aboard the Rose City, as well as the debauchery that occurred when the ship made port. Though the descriptions of booze, women and drunken antics may seem unnecessary and distasteful to some readers, Moynihan uses them to effectively demonstrate how, through these experiences, the disparate men bonded and became a unified crew. It makes for a sincere study of the life of a man at sea, eschewing the romanticism often associated with the lifestyle. Moynihan is a talented writer, wielding crisp and clear prose, and his emotions spill out onto the page but never overwhelm the story. He brings the narrative to a satisfying close, only marred by the fact that the author’s life was cut tragically short. An honest portrayal of a lonely life at sea, Moynihan’s adventures aboard the Rose City are exciting, but it is his overwhelming desire for acceptance that will resonate most with readers.


Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8243-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011


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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