ACCARDO

THE GENUINE GODFATHER

A well-padded but quite readable history of Tony Accardo, the gangster who got his start as Al Capone's bodyguard and rose to rule over the Chicago mob until his death of natural causes in 1992. Roemer (The Enforcer, 1994, etc.), a 30-year FBI man who was senior agent of the Organized Crime Squad, admits to a ``grudging respect'' for Accardo, who ``did his job with some class'' and, in Chicago at least, kept ``the mob away from families and from the drug trade.'' Capone nicknamed his young henchman ``Joe Batters'' after he clubbed two rivals to death with baseball bat. A protÇgÇ of the notorious Machine Gun Jack McGurn, Accardo, according to Roemer, was with McGurn at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre in 1928. He bases that contention and a lot of his information on the FBI wiretaps and ``bugs'' on organized crime figures in the 1950s and 1960s. After Capone went to prison in 1931 and following the 1943 suicide of Frank Nitti and the indictment for extortion of several gangland leaders, Accardo assumed control of the so-called Chicago Outfit. Except for his infamous nontestimony at the 1950 Kefauver hearings, Accardo kept a fairly low profile. He methodically expanded mob operations into the black ghettos of his city and took over rackets and casinos in Florida and Las Vegas. In 1957, having ``become the very best ever'' and achieving ``everything a mob boss could accomplish,'' Accardo handed over the day-to-day supervision of gang activities to flashy Sam Giancana. Roemer believes that Accardo remained the final authority on all major business and personnel decisionsincluding ``contracts''until his dying day. A big, sprawled-out account that serves more as anecdotal history of organized crime than it does as biography. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 1995

ISBN: 1-55611-467-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Donald Fine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1995

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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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