Good enough to pass the time on a long flight, but easily left onboard afterwards. (8 pp. b&w photos, not seen)

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AIR FORCE ONE

A HISTORY OF THE PRESIDENTS AND THEIR PLANES

Longtime White House correspondent Walsh (Feeding the Beast, 1996, etc.) cracks few eggs in his soufflé-light account of the world’s most famous airplanes and their VIP passengers.

Presidents behave on Air Force One much as they behave elsewhere, only more so, states the author. This unremarkable thesis does little to buttress Walsh’s insistence that the Chief Executive’s plane is in the same symbolic league as the Statue of Liberty and the White House. He notes there are now two identical 747s (just in case), as well as a little-known “doomsday plane” that carries even more sophisticated electronics. Walsh begins with the first president to fly, FDR, who made three flights. Truman was the first to fly routinely (his DC-6 was called Independence), and those who liked Ike will remember his Columbines I and II. It was during Eisenhower’s presidency that the plane became known as Air Force One. JFK ordered “United States of America” painted on the fuselage, and LBJ, who memorably took the oath of office on board in Dallas, on later flights drank heavily, belched, ogled women, and “saw the plane as a private reserve and all-around locker room.” Nixon, who preferred to be alone, received a new 707 in December 1972 and rechristened it The Spirit of ’76, a name that failed to catch on. (Walsh reveals that Syrian MIGs once flew so close to the craft that Nixon’s alarmed pilot took evasive maneuvers.) Ford, the most popular of all with the flight crews, restored the name Air Force One. Carter liked to give out leather-bound autographed Bibles. Reagan used the plane as a powerful political prop. Bush I outlawed broccoli on board. Clinton stayed up all night. And Walsh’s extremely uncritical and credulous account follows Bush II from Louisiana to Nebraska on 9/11 before returning to Washington.

Good enough to pass the time on a long flight, but easily left onboard afterwards. (8 pp. b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 1-4013-0004-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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