High-class retelling of the real-life affair behind the mistaken-sex plot of M. Butterfly. Wadler wrote the poignant My Breast (1992). Bernard Boursicot sought adventure and, in the early 60's, wound up clerking for the French embassy in Beijing as a 20-year- old virgin who'd detached himself from some distasteful homosexual episodes as a schoolboy. In China, he met Shi Pei Pu, a small, mysterious, and apparently male singer who'd played women's roles with the Beijing Opera. After many months of shared lunches and dinners, Pei Pu revealed to Bernard that he was actually a woman. His anxiety-ridden parents had raised him as a boy, he said, and, in unisex Mao clothes, it had been easy to pass as a man. Slowly, Bernard fell for Pei Pu, then began having sex with her/him, usually in the dark but not always. According to both, this was passionate sex, and, 18 years later, Bernard still thought Pei Pu a woman despite the singer's affairs with other women. When the two were arrested in Paris for spying (Bernard had fallen under the spell of Mao's Little Red Book and performed some innocuous spying for China so he could stay with Pei Pu and care for his supposed son by the singer), doctors proved that Pei Pu was a man. How had the guileful Pei Pu duped Bernard for so long? Well, the answer convinces but won't be revealed here, since Wadler (who badgers Bernard in several interviews reprinted throughout the text) passes through several explanations before arriving, on her last page, at the real trick used by Pei Pu.... Compelling and faintly bittersweet. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-553-09213-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1993

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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