ARCHIBALD COX

CONSCIENCE OF A NATION

The jurist who gave Richard Nixon fits receives his due in a satisfying biography. Gormley (Law/Duquesne Univ.) approaches Cox as an exponent of a particularly tough, independent-minded, Yankee kind of approach to the law. Born in 1912, Cox came of age in a time when the legal profession was nearly universally respected and when whole lineages devoted themselves to the practice of law (Gormley notes that Cox's great-grandfather William Maxwell Evarts defended Andrew Johnson when impeachment proceedings were undertaken against him in 1868). After clerking for the eminent federal judge Learned Hand, Cox became a government labor lawyer, then a Harvard professor, and then entered politics somewhat reluctantly as a speechwriter for presidential candidate John Kennedy. Despite his solid rÇsumÇ, Cox was seemingly unprepared for the scrutiny that would attach to his work as the government's special prosecutor in the Watergate investigation of 1973. Gormley examines Nixon's charge that Cox was a politically motivated hit man who, with his staff, ``bored like termites through the whole executive branch,'' noting that Cox was in fact something of a legal conservative who criticized such rulings as Roe v. Wade and who found the whole business of turning up evidence against a sitting president personally distasteful. Gormley gives a careful account of the events leading up to Cox's dismissal at Nixon's orders; the man who fired him was a federal judge named Robert Bork, whose role as hatchet man would come back to haunt him more than a decade later as a nominee for the Supreme Court. Students of the Watergate years will find a few other gems in Gormley's pages, including an admission from Nixon's chief of staff Alexander Haig that the president ``could well be guilty.'' Otherwise, this well-written biography will be of most interest to students of law in the public interest. (b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-201-40713-2

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Addison-Wesley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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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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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