for a fool. (40 b&w photos, not seen)

A discursive, anecdotal life of the prolific creator of Sherlock Holmes by the equally prolific Booth (The Industry of Souls,

1999, etc.), who seeks here to put the bluff Sir Arthur on the same pedestal as the giants of English literature. Because the largest collection of Doyle’s papers has been kept from scholarly review by his heirs, every biographer who has knelt at the physician-turned-writer’s shrine has had to speculate on crucial details about Doyle’s relationship with his dissolute father, Charles, a failed illustrator who died in an asylum, and with the mysterious lodger Bryan Waller, who saved the struggling family from an Edinburgh poorhouse and might have fathered one of Doyle's sisters. Questions also persist about the sources of Doyle's inconsistent attitudes about science, spiritualism, racism, and women’s suffrage. Moreover, Doyle’s rags-to-riches adventures as a world traveler, photographer, physician, wartime correspondent, amateur detective, patriotic booster, and, finally, writer of some of world’s best and worst genre fiction are so varied that every biographer buckles under the wealth of detail. Booth too often raises important clues to Doyle’s character only to abandon them in his rush to squeeze everything in. Still, he manages to set some records straight (Doyle had literary aspirations long before he became a physician; Sherlock Holmes was based on more originals than Joseph Bell, Doyle’s favorite medical school teacher), reprint some legends (though he spent months on research, at his peak Doyle could finish a novel in less than a week), celebrate his hero’s triumphs (Doyle was knighted for his pro-British pamphleteering during the Boer War, not for his writing), mourn his embarrassments (an ardent believer in the supernatural, he was easily duped by cynical magicians and fraudulent mediums), and explain his enduring popularity. Doyle emerges as an honorable pillar of Victorian pride and prejudice, even when he wrote ineptly and let others play him

for a fool. (40 b&w photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-24251-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2000


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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