An often engaging and atypical historical biography.

PROHIBITION WINE

A TRUE STORY OF ONE WOMAN'S DARING IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY AMERICA

A family history that doubles as an immigration primer.

This biography of Knapp’s grandmother highlights her participation in the illegal liquor trade during the Prohibition era. The author, a community activist, tells the story of a Russian Jewish immigrant family in Boston who later moved out to the country in Wilmington, Massachusetts. The book’s main focus, however, is on the resourcefulness and resilience of the widowed Rebecca Goldberg amid many hardships and obstacles. It highlights her foray into the 1920s liquor market, emphasizing that she only did it for her family’s survival and that her participation lasted only until it became too risky; along the way, she was tried in court for selling liquor to a detective and found not guilty. The work includes family photos, illustrations, as well as reprints of relevant newspaper clippings. Overall, Knapp, the author of A Steadfast Spirit (2017), presents a solid personal history over the course of the text. However, as a microhistory of the Jewish immigration experience in the early 20th century, it’s somewhat limited, although the opening chapter about the journey from pre-revolutionary Russia works well. Other historical information seems extraneous, however, such as an overly lengthy discussion of what Goldberg may have used for the purposes of birth control. Also, the book’s title feels a bit misleading, as this is not a work about the glamorous and risqué speak-easies that most people associate with Prohibition. Despite this, the book remains an important and informative story about Eastern European Jewish immigrants of the era.

An often engaging and atypical historical biography.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64742-061-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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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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