THE COLOR OF TRUTH

MCGEORGE BUNDY AND WILLIAM BUNDY: BROTHERS IN ARMS: A BIOGRAPHY

A probing, ultimately critical dual biography of the Boston Brahmin brothers who helped plunge America into the Vietnam quagmire as members of the JFK-LBJ —best and brightest.— Bred to esteem public service by father Harvey (an assistant to Henry Stimson in the Hoover and FDR administrations), William and McGeorge Bundy seemed natural choices when John Kennedy appointed them, respectively, assistant secretary of defense and national security adviser. In the 1950s these policy intellectuals had displayed coolness during McCarthyite witch hunts—William as staff director of the CIA’s Office of National Estimates, McGeorge as dean of Harvard’s faculty of arts and sciences. But, Bird (co-editor with Lawrence Lifschultz of Hiroshima’s Shadow, p. 543, etc.) emphasizes, these gifted, charming men also epitomized the “vital center” that was as confident of projecting liberalism abroad as it was of upholding it at home. Bird’s predilection for New Left/revisionist history inclines him to view American power as provocative toward communism during this period (e.g., he sees JFK’s management of the Cuban missile crisis as less a triumph of cool thinking than a lucky escape from the consequences of assassination plots against Fidel Castro following the Bay of Pigs). At times, the Bundys seemed less governed by the lessons of Munich than by a politically pragmatic fear of what McGeorge called “the wild men in the wings” (i.e., conservative Republicans). The Bundys, Bird reveals with the help of a wealth of declassified documents and interviews, realized the dangers of deep American involvement in Vietnam from the start. But their sense of loyalty to Lyndon Johnson caused them not only to stay silent publicly but even to mute their dissent privately with him, thereby doing a disservice to boss and country, Bird suggests. Though somewhat biased toward a leftist view of American foreign policy, this biography scrupulously and compellingly details how two pillars of the American establishment struggled, often unsuccessfully, to balance conscience against power in the nuclear age.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-684-80970-2

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1998

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

THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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