RED STAR SISTER

BETWEEN MADNESS AND UTOPIA

A self-critical but refreshingly unrepentant memoir of ’60s radicalism. Born in 1952, Brody grew up in working-class Riverhead and Massapequa, New York (her father ran —a five-acre auto- wrecking yard—), before acquiring the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n— roll credentials of her older contemporaries: she tripped in the Haight, took in Woodstock, jetted to Europe on Icelandic Air, and smoked hash in Amsterdam. All of this she recounts with good humor, capturing the seize-the-day spirit of the times with an easy grace. Writing of the aftermath of the Kent State shootings, for instance, she recalls an invitation by a young hipster to share his sleeping bag before a demonstration: —In that eve-of-battle atmosphere, I thought, why not? If they use live ammunition tomorrow—I could die a virgin.— She also spent time on the fringes of the Left, arguing with her old-guard radical father over Vietnam and logging time with the White Panther Party (from which she earned the designation —Red Star Sister—). As she puts it: —I was . . . moving spasmodically, from plot point to plot point, like a character in a melodrama.— All these experiences mark the turmoil and idealism to which her subtitle alludes, and she writes of them skillfully and without self-indulgence. Although she clearly rues some of the rhetorical (and the daily) excesses of the New Left, Brody refuses to follow the path of David Horowitz and other ’60s rebels-turned-rightists. —By telling you this story of the war years in terms of my own life,— she instead volunteers, —I hope to salvage some sense of the utopianism and the complicated vision of country and self that dazzled so many of us in the age we held in common.— Casually convincing sentences and a steadfast memory make this a representative memoir of a troubled era.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 1998

ISBN: 1-886913-15-3

Page Count: 206

Publisher: Ruminator Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1998

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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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