Harvey Milk as seen through fresh, highly knowledgeable eyes.

A new biography of the controversial and groundbreaking Harvey Milk (1930-1978).

In this latest installment of the publisher’s Jewish Lives series, LGBT historian Faderman (The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, 2015, etc.) focuses on one of the most revolutionary West Coast gay politicians of the 20th century. Born to a Jewish family, Milk struggled to find his place in the society that surrounded him, regardless of where he lived and went to school. As the author writes, “Harvey was steeped in Jewishness as a child….But his heart was not in it. He later claimed that he rejected religion because when he was twelve years old he ‘found out that religion was phony or hypocritical.’ ” Milk’s ability to see things as they were—to see through the protective membranes of societal and cultural preconceptions—is what set him apart as a deeply insightful politician. He clearly identified the major issues in his community and addressed them head-on. Faderman deftly navigates us through Milk’s incredible journey, from his days exploring the Navy’s gay haven to his experience in the early 1970s in New York scrapping pennies to pay the rent on his Greenwich Village apartment to his arrival to California, where he quickly became a staple in the Castro District, the notoriously gay neighborhood in San Francisco. The author naturally devotes much of the text to Milk’s political accomplishments, including his work against the discriminatory Proposition 6, voter registration drives, and, above all, being the first openly gay man elected as city supervisor. Though Milk’s story is well-known, Faderman does a fantastic job at reanimating a story that reminds us that people can be truly tolerant—with the exception of the few—and that, with will (not money), anyone can effect change.

Harvey Milk as seen through fresh, highly knowledgeable eyes.

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-300-22261-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018


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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