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A marvelous portrait of a professional woman ahead of her time whose relationship with FDR sheds new light on his...

Franklin Roosevelt’s longtime loyal personal secretary earns a much-needed, balanced portrait.

Although the boss and his devoted factotum were often thrown together intimately over 20 years to tackle his correspondence and brainstorm on speeches and personnel, they were probably not lovers, asserts FDR historian, journalist, and native Georgian Smith (A Necessary War, 2013) in her lively study. A daughter of working-class Boston Catholic parents, Missy LeHand (1898-1944) was an ambitious, high school–educated, trained secretary when, in 1920, FDR’s campaign chairman, Charles McCarthy, brought her into his circle. Even before his first election to New York State governor in 1928, LeHand proved her skill and devotion as FDR’s law secretary and right arm during the years “adrift” after he was stricken by polio. Moreover, while his wife, Eleanor, detested the role of hostess, LeHand was adept and polished, even garnering publicity as the president’s “Super-Secretary” and best dressed among the capital’s women. Through thick and thin, uncomplaining about being on call in his residence for late-night working (whether in Georgia or the White House), LeHand became part of the indispensable White House “secretariat,” including other core members Louis Howe, Steve Early, and Marvin McIntyre. Smith describes LeHand’s job for FDR as chief of staff, when the term was not yet used. Yet with so few women in such high-end jobs, LeHand suffered the inevitable sexism and presumed blurring of duties, as Smith makes very clear. She noted the eclipse of her reputation after her death, thanks to disparaging portraits by the president’s son Elliott in his memoir, An Untold Story (1973), among others. The effects of childhood rheumatic fever and the untold stress of these hardworking years eventually caught up with her in 1941, when she was struck by a massive stroke and removed from the lofty heights of power.

A marvelous portrait of a professional woman ahead of her time whose relationship with FDR sheds new light on his personality and decisions.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1496-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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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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