A gripping account that takes readers from Nazi concentration camps to Wall Street boardrooms.

UNSTOPPABLE

SIGGI B. WILZIG'S ASTONISHING JOURNEY FROM AUSCHWITZ SURVIVOR AND PENNILESS IMMIGRANT TO WALL STREET LEGEND

A biography traces the odyssey of a Holocaust survivor who became a CEO.

Holocaust scholar and filmmaker Greene, whose acclaimed work includes the book Witness (2001), offers readers the extraordinary story of Siggi B. Wilzig. Born in Prussia’s contested Polish Corridor in 1926, Wilzig began his lifelong battle with antisemitism as a 6-year-old child when he was held headfirst over a meat grinder by a local farmer who threatened to make “chopped Jew meat.” By his 19th birthday, “nearly dead from exhaustion, malnutrition, and pneumonia,” Wilzig was among the few survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Mauthausen concentration camps. While the first third of the volume recounts the gruesome, brutal details of the horrors Wilzig confronted during the 1930s and ’40s, the rest tells the Horatio Alger story of his postwar immigration to the United States. With nothing more than a grammar school education, Wilzig found a job shoveling snow from a New York City sidewalk. The work shows how he eventually forged a multibillion-dollar oil and commercial banking empire. As president, chairman, and CEO of the Wilshire Oil Company of Texas and the Trust Company of New Jersey, he continued to face anti-Jewish sentiment “in two of postwar America’s most antisemitic industries.” Greene’s concise, approachable narrative successfully brings Wilzig’s “volcano” of a personality and “inspired voice” to the fore. The author recounts the entrepreneur’s interactions with presidents, celebrities, and CEOs and presents anecdotes of his business prowess and tenacity. Wilzig was, for instance, “the first person in history to sue the Federal Reserve.” In addition to chronicling his Wall Street acumen, the book relates Wilzig’s fight against Holocaust deniers, including his role in establishing the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a further testimony to his legacy. This well-researched biography is largely based on original interviews with Wilzig’s business partners, rivals, and contemporaries (including his longtime chauffer), which—supplemented with ample family photographs—help provide an intimate portrait of a complex man. Like many rags-to-riches tales, the work leans heavily toward hagiography, though this may indeed be difficult to avoid given Wilzig’s remarkable life.

A gripping account that takes readers from Nazi concentration camps to Wall Street boardrooms.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64-722215-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Insight Editions

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

I'M GLAD MY MOM DIED

The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

TANQUERAY

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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