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WINNIE AND NELSON

PORTRAIT OF A MARRIAGE

A magnificent portrait of two people joined in the throes of making South African history.

A probing study of a complicated marriage that became emblematic of the revolutionary struggle against apartheid in South Africa.

In this eloquent biography, Steinberg, author of A Man of Good Hope and Sizwe’s Test, captures the mythic quality of these two leaders, their great love story and tragic estrangement, and the hubris and human frailty beneath the personas. While Nelson Mandela, imprisoned for nearly three decades, became the “personal embodiment of his people’s quest for freedom,” his untouchable grandeur only growing with time, Winnie was scarred by raw passion, anger, violence, and scandal. Nonetheless, she is an entirely sympathetic character here. Steinberg begins with composite portraits of each before they met in 1957, when Nelson was a sought-after lawyer in Johannesburg, married with children, and Winnie, at 21, was a social worker with a fiance. Nelson and Winnie had both grown up amid clans undergoing “great ambition and rapid self-transformation,” and both had a sense of how politically dynamic their match could be. Enmeshed in Black nationalist politics, Nelson became leader of the African National Congress and eventually embraced armed struggle. Married in 1958, the couple would barely live together two years before Nelson was sentenced to life in prison on Robben Island. Steinberg also delineates how Winnie “had built her household in a world full of young men’s violence,” and her reputation was tarnished when she was implicated in a variety of human rights violations. The truth is muddied by conflicting versions, but her connection to Nelson allowed her protection from justice. While his role as leader required supreme self-discipline, masking his enormous pain at his wife’s infidelity and treachery, her actions “stand as a monument to the revolution's underbelly, a reminder of lives lost for nothing.” The author is careful not to vilify her while deifying him; rather, he presents a nuanced, well-contextualized look at their relationship within its time.

A magnificent portrait of two people joined in the throes of making South African history.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780525656852

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Awards & Accolades

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

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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