A slow-smoldering, steadily argued work of historical significance.

The Grey sisters receive a compelling treatment from De Lisle (After Elizabeth: The Rise of James of Scotland and the Struggle for the Throne of England, 2006).

In this sympathetic biography of the three grand-nieces of Henry VIII who had a real shot at reigning in England, the author stresses the theme that women were deeply scorned and feared as rulers. However, during the generation after Henry died, de Lisle notes, “the entire political system, the stability of England” would be borne out by the actions of females, “beings to be used and manipulated.” In 1544, Henry had established his line of succession, which moved from his young son Edward down to his two “illegitimate” daughters Mary and Elizabeth, to the descendants of his youngest sister, Frances Brandon (the Grey branch). Lady Jane Grey, the eldest sister and most promising in terms of intellectual accomplishment and resolve, was apparently an even better pupil than her cousin Elizabeth. But she was prey to all manner of schemes by relatives and guardians to marry her off, and de Lisle suggests that her true hope was to marry King Edward. However, because Edward had named the Grey branch as his rightful successors, Jane was finagled into marrying Lord Guildford Dudley to produce a quick son and heir. With Edward’s death, Lady Jane ruled for a fortnight, before the people of England rose up to demand that Mary Tudor be rightfully installed. Jane’s two sisters, warily watched and imprisoned under Elizabeth, would escape the chopping block but endure bleak fates of their own. De Lisle is to be commended for skillfully drawing out the stories of these undervalued personages, especially the one who stood in line to inherit the throne before the Grey sisters—their poor overlooked mother, Frances.

A slow-smoldering, steadily argued work of historical significance.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-345-49135-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2009


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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