A solid piece of research that reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of a now-forgotten man who loved a good story and...

A warts-and-all portrait of Harry Golden (1903-1981), founder of the North Carolina newspaper Carolina Israelite.

Hartnett pulls no punches in describing the life and career of the Jewish American humorist perhaps best known for his bestselling first book, Only in America (1958). She makes clear that he was a charming man who tricked people out of money and reneged on promises. Born Hershel Goldhirsch in present-day Ukraine, he told various versions of when he was born and when he arrived in New York City’s Lower East Side. Hartnett notes his discrepancies but does not attempt to sort them out. She passes briefly over his short career on Wall Street and his prison sentence for mail fraud, focusing instead on his life in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he settled during World War II and where he founded the Carolina Israelite. Liberal quotes give the flavor of Golden’s style, his warm humor about the Jewish experience in America, his deep sympathy for the underdog, and especially his views on race relations. Hartnett shows us his friendship with Carl Sandburg, who wrote the foreword for his first book, his work for Adlai Stevenson, his relations with the Kennedy White House, and the disdain he received from Jewish intellectuals, who found him sentimental, even corny. The popularity he enjoyed in the 1950s and ’60s waned in the ’70s, as a younger generation disagreed with his views on the Vietnam War and were not charmed by his romanticized Lower East Side stories. Much more than the biography of one man, however, this is a well-told account of the civil rights movement, describing significant milestones in its history, the splits among its leaders, and the various forms that activism took.

A solid piece of research that reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of a now-forgotten man who loved a good story and could put a comic spin on important social issues.

Pub Date: May 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4696-2103-6

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015


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



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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