A striking remembrance by an intellectual whose radical, fierce nature is unflappable.

A revolutionary woman and remarkable writer places her long journey within the context of her conflicted past and our own divided present.

Naming one book by Randall (Exporting Revolution: Cuba’s Global Solidarity, 2017, etc.)—or even 10 (she has published more than 150)—doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of her oeuvre, let alone summarize her impressive arc as a person. The author has always been busy and prolific, whether as a well-known poet, an active participant in Latin America’s revolutionary culture, a mother, or simply a woman who has experienced multiple awakenings during her 83 years on Earth. This memoir, more generalized than her writings about Cuba or her later years in Albuquerque, not only covers her life, work, and personal evolution, but also provides a sampling of her poetry, photographs, and reflections on the suffering endured by immigrants around the world and the bravery of those honored few who stand up to tyranny. “I want to do more than showcase a singular journey,” Randall writes. “None of us are separate.” The author’s compassion for her fellow humans is always on display, but this is a cinematic story infused with Randall’s intellectual spirit. Born in New York City, Randall found her way around the world, interacting with other writers and artists, raising children, and fighting the good fight in Spain, Mexico, Cuba, and Nicaragua. Though the narrative contains numerous luminaries—Alan Ginsberg, Alice Walker, Arthur Miller, among others—Randall is uninterested in name-dropping. Where the book gets most interesting—and relevant to today—is when the author describes how she was deported in 1984 because “the government claimed that my writing went ‘beyond the good order and happiness of the United States.’ ” She didn’t win her case until 1989, with the assistance of numerous writers, including Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, Kurt Vonnegut, Gray Paley, Carlos Fuentes, and Norman Mailer. “The use of immigration law as a political weapon continues,” writes the author. “Only its victims have changed.”

A striking remembrance by an intellectual whose radical, fierce nature is unflappable.

Pub Date: March 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4780-0618-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Duke Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020


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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