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In the forest of quotations, Stewart still often eludes his pursuer.

A prolific biographer (Stephen King and Colbert are among her subjects) returns with a good-news/bad-news account of the career of the host of the Daily Show.

Rogak’s endnotes (One Big Happy Family: Heartwarming Stories of Animals Caring for One Another, 2013, etc.) indicate that virtually all of her many quotations come from previously published sources (she does mention a few phone interviews, though not with Stewart himself), so there’s kind of a highly competent term-paper feel throughout her breezy narrative. She begins by calling Stewart (born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz in 1962) “a bundle of walking contradictions”—the principal one being the contrast between his very popular public self and his intensely private life. Those who know Stewart only in his current capacity will be surprised to learn about his chops as a high school trumpet player and his talent in soccer (he played for the College of William and Mary). Readers won’t be surprised to learn that he was a joker throughout his life; he was named the senior with the best sense of humor in his high school. Rogak follows his early struggles to become a professional comedian (his first appearance was less than auspicious) and his steady rise through the ranks of his competition (which included Ray Romano, Chris Rock and Louis C.K.), his early experiences on TV, his near misses for prestigious jobs, his arrival in 1999 at the Daily Show and its ensuing steady success. In the early chapters, the author is highly flattering; later, she quotes some tough things about Stewart from former employees who talk about the harsh work environment, Stewart’s temper and his failures to include many women on the staff. She also rehashes his media battles with Crossfire and Mad Money and mentions those who have left his show to succeed elsewhere (Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert). Rogak unearths just a bit about his personal life—a quiet, happy marriage and fatherhood.

In the forest of quotations, Stewart still often eludes his pursuer.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1250014443

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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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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