The ties that bind the two countries today are, at least in part, of Churchill’s making.

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CHURCHILL AND AMERICA

Crusty old Tories long complained that Winston Churchill wasn’t quite British. His official biographer shows that they were right.

Churchill’s mother, née Jennie Jerome, was born in Brooklyn in 1854. It thrilled Winston more to know that one of his ancestors was what he called, in the parlance of the time, “a Seneca squaw.” Writes Gilbert (The Righteous, 2003, etc.), “the quintessential Englishman was not only half American but also one-sixty-fourth Native American.” Being half American did not keep Churchill from serving as an advisor to the Spanish government just before war broke out with the U.S., nor did he shy from answering the call when it appeared that the U.S. and England were on the verge of war over some tangled dealings in Venezuela. Yet Churchill’s affinities were always with America, and the feelings were mutual; Churchill’s powers of persuasion were such that Charles Schwab, the head of U.S. Steel, gladly violated neutrality laws to build submarines for England during WWI, and even FDR figured out a way to skirt those same laws to supply Churchill with airplanes before the U.S. entered WWII. Close feelings apart, though, Churchill often found himself flummoxed by American politics: He was irritated when Congress pressed for quick repayment of war debts after WWI; unhappy when, in his view, the U.S. allowed Russia to swallow up half of Europe; and downright irate at Eisenhower’s obstinate refusal to hold informal talks with Soviet diplomats, which might have ended the Cold War much sooner. Much of this will be a revelation even to those who know Churchill’s work and career, and Gilbert does a fine job of charting the statesman’s sometimes mixed feelings for the land he considered a second home—and his closest ally.

The ties that bind the two countries today are, at least in part, of Churchill’s making.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2005

ISBN: 0-7432-5992-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2005

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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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