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A poignant sketch of a lost champion of social justice from an age when it could still be said that "politics is still the...

Freelance reporter and TV news producer Bohrer debuts with an inquiry into the transformation of Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968) from hard-nosed political operative to inspirational presidential candidate.

When John F. Kennedy was murdered in 1963, his brother Robert had never held elective office, nor seemed likely to. As JFK's campaign manager and later as attorney general, he stepped on many toes and made few friends; the word most often used to describe him was "ruthless." Grief-stricken and increasingly marginalized by a paranoid Lyndon Johnson, RFK was profoundly uncertain about his future. After a desultory quest for the 1964 vice-presidential nomination was vetoed by Johnson, he won a Senate seat in New York and began building a national constituency around a radical social welfare program and skepticism about the administration's Vietnam policy. Growing up in wealth and privilege, he had had little experience with the effects of racism and poverty; as a senator, his efforts to advance his brother's civil rights legacy led him to a wholehearted embrace of their victims in contentious and even dangerous circumstances. To young people, especially, he began speaking passionately of a "revolution now in progress," peaceful if possible, but demanding advances in individual dignity and in economic and political freedom. Bohrer presents this thorough and well-researched narrative in an evenhanded style, leaving evaluation of this still-controversial politician to readers. Oddly, he ends his story in early 1966, two years before RFK definitively broke with Johnson, running a long-shot presidential campaign that ended with Kennedy's assassination; the implication is that Kennedy's political transformation was complete by this time and all that followed was merely consequential. The author also leaves it to readers to ponder the continuing relevance of this long-dead senator who stood for many as "a bridge for a country that was tearing apart."

A poignant sketch of a lost champion of social justice from an age when it could still be said that "politics is still the greatest and most honorable adventure."

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60819-964-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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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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