Japanese journalist Murata warmly remembers his six-year career as a student in the US during WW II, maintaining the awestruck tone of the diary he began as a teenager. Barred from his own country's top colleges due to a lung disease, Murata (b. 1922) leaves his rural town in 1941 to come to America, where an aunt has pledged to support his studies. A patriotic product of Japanese public school during its military campaign against China, Murata plans to earn a degree as fast as possible and return to serve in the Japanese army. But less than six months after he begins studying English in San Francisco, his country bombs Pearl Harbor. As he ponders why Japanese-Americans express embarrassment at the bombing rather than being ``just as angry as any other American,'' the federal government begins to plan to evacuate all Japanese and Japanese-Americans from the West Coast. Here, Murata is not interested in investigating the complaints of other Japanese who tell of their property being seized and of being held against their will. He asserts that his own stint in Arizona's Poston War Relocation Center was ``more or less satisfactory under the circumstances''; Murata is able to leave the camp after nine months with a letter from a prospective employer. Staying away from concentrations of Japanese, he successfully earns a B.A. from Carleton College after two-and-a- half years of intensive study, and goes on to earn an M.A. in international relations from the Univ. of Chicago. Impressed by ``American friendliness'' and other national traits (such as ``not laughing at or abusing someone for failure''), he observes himself picking up some American traits—and winds up tutoring American officers-in-training in Japanese customs in preparation for the postwar occupation. Controversial only in its omissions, Murata's tale has the charm of a traditional wartime boy-comes-of-age account, with an international twist. (Eight pages of b&w photographs.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1991

ISBN: 4-770-01609-3

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Kodansha

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1991

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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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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...


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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