An engaging and amiable autobiography by the veteran, Academy Awardwinning character actor. Though they labor in the shadows of stars, supporting players are frequently more talented than their top-billed brethren, whose fame and fortune are so often the gift of their looks. Supporting players like Malden have only sheer acting ability going for them. Born Mladen Sekulovich, in 1913, into the Serbian enclave of the dreary mill town of Gary, Ind., Malden seemed destined for a life of hard manual labor. In school he acted frequently, but he had little sense of where or how to take this talent further, so he went to work in the local steel mill. Sensing life slipping by, he eventually visited the Goodman drama school in Chicago. With his small savings, he could only afford one semester's tuition, but he soon earned a scholarship and was on his way. Malden debuted during the Golden Age of American drama, when Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller were at the height of their powers. After he'd struggled for several years in plays that quickly closed, his portrayal of Mitch—on both stage and screen—in A Streetcar Named Desire launched his career of semi-stardom. This was the era of the Group Theater, that dedicated, even cultic, band of performers and directors who changed American acting. While Malden was deeply involved with them, he already, naturally, adhered to many of their precepts—minus their dogma. His comments on his preparation as an actor are some of the most interesting parts of this book. Despite his acting abilities, Malden has no great gift for choosing roles, and beyond a few notable exceptions, such as Patton and On the Waterfront, he has appeared in any number of mediocre movies and TV shows. Still, his is an inspiring story of perseverance and hard work. As autobiographies by second bananas go, this is among the best of the bunch.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-684-84309-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1997

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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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