An uneven look at the early years of Facebook.

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THE BOY KINGS

A JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF THE SOCIAL NETWORK

An account of the early days of Facebook from a former employee, who examines how the social network's origins match up with the Internet behemoth of today.

Though he claims that “privacy is dead,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg guards his own privacy closely, insisting that seamless sharing benefits humanity. He apparently hasn't taken umbrage with this book, from Facebook's “51st employee.” Losse joined the company in 2005 as one of the first customer-service representatives, fielding a wide variety of questions and answering outraged letters demanding an explanation of the privacy settings. In her memoir, the author dutifully chronicles the machinations of Zuckerberg and company as they codified their boss’ vision. Losse depicts the offices as “frat-house”–style environs, with the all-important programmers on one floor and everybody else—in the author’s understanding, the vastly less important workers—on another. Seeing an opportunity, she worked on preparing editions of Facebook for other countries; when told not to by her manager, she went ahead and did it anyway, noting later that the atmosphere at Facebook simultaneously encouraged the establishing of control and the dismantling of control. Despite some genuine insights into the nature of the network, the narrative is hampered by the dull chronicles of the author’s personal life. For example, ruminations on a pseudo-romance with a programmer named "Thrax" add little to the story. When Losse shares that she "was happy to hear that Britney Spears was nice" from Spears' former personal security guard, the book begins to feel like Facebook itself—some useful, interesting parts overwhelmed by unrelated news of little interest.

An uneven look at the early years of Facebook.

Pub Date: June 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-6825-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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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