A personal story that reveals much about the evolution of American liberalism.

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THE LADY UPSTAIRS

DOROTHY SCHIFF AND THE NEW YORK POST

Workmanlike biography of the woman who for 40 years owned and published the New York Post.

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Dorothy Schiff (1903–89) is that she ever managed to break out of the decorative role assigned by her wealthy German-Jewish parents and grow into a person with ideas of her own. Documentary producer Nissenson, making her print debut, emphasizes her subject’s progressive views, privileged background and good use of numerous husbands and boyfriends. Schiff’s first marriage, to unserious gentile party boy Dick Hall, removed her from her parents’ watch and gave her two children in quick succession. Second husband George Backer brought her into a literary, theatrical circle, and she got an initial taste of politics while working for FDR’s 1936 reelection campaign. In 1939, the Backers acquired the reputedly radical Post, whose draining debts Schiff would devotedly assume for the next 40 years. Three years later, she kicked her husband out and took control of the paper; in 1943, she married enterprising Post editor Ted Thackrey, who had shown her the ropes. The Post’s liberal, pro-Zionist, anti-communist stance was favored by Jewish immigrants and the working classes. After she divorced Thackrey in 1949, Schiff made the paper economically viable by courting advertisers and bringing on strong, loyal editors and writers such as James Wechsler, Paul Sann, Murray Kempton, Max Lerner, Pete Hamill, Alice Davidson, Sylvia Porter and Ted Poston, one of the first black reporters at a New York newspaper. She stuck to her New Deal ideals through the 1950s, though the paper lost its muckraking zeal and its financial fortunes began to decline in the late ’60s. Schiff sold it to Rupert Murdoch, its owner today, in 1976.

A personal story that reveals much about the evolution of American liberalism.

Pub Date: April 5, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-31310-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007

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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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