THOMAS JEFFERSON: PASSIONATE PILGRIM

THE PRESIDENCY, THE FOUNDING OF THE UNIVERSITY AND THE PRIVATE BATTLE

Following his earlier Thomas Jefferson: A Strange Case of Mistaken Identity (1989—not reviewed), Old Dominion professor Mapp offers a graceful, admiring assessment of the great democrat as President and as the aged but still intellectually vital ``Sage of Monticello.'' As President, Jefferson eased people's fears about the radical tendencies of his Democratic-Republican Party by ``taking things by the smooth handle.'' Mapp takes sharp issue with such Jefferson critics as Henry Adams and Theodore Roosevelt, who depicted the Virginian as both a hypocrite who violated his ``strict constructionist'' principles while in office and as a pacifist who left the nation woefully unprepared for the War of 1812. Instead, Mapp sees Jefferson as an activist, visionary chief executive who used his authority to order military action against the Barbary pirates, advance judicial reform, double the size of the nation through the Louisiana Purchase, and institute an embargo that kept peace with Great Britain while the US built up its navy. (Mapp does fault Jefferson for falling short of his libertarian ideals in condoning General James Wilkinson's trampling on civil liberties in New Orleans and in branding Aaron Burr as a traitor before his former Vice President came to trial.) Stepping down at the end of his second term in 1809, Jefferson battled debt, legal and family problems, and physical deterioration to shepherd the Univ. of Virginia from an innovative educational concept into actual physical existence—``one of the great triumphs of the human spirit,'' according to Mapp. An engrossing biography that pays full tribute to Jefferson's personal genius and political achievements. (B&w illustrations—not seen.)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-8191-8053-X

Page Count: 446

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1991

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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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BECOMING

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...

NIGHT

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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