In a moving commemoration of the 125th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s birth, Soames, his last surviving child (Family Album, 1982; Clementine Churchill, 1979), presents a large selection of the intimate letters of Churchill and his wife, Clementine, from 1909 to 1964. Soames presents the letters both chronologically and topically, starting with the courtship and marriage of the Churchills in 1909 and swiftly moving into Churchill’s long career in Parliament and the government. Fortunately for Clementine, she reveals herself to be keenly interested in politics, which consumed her husband’s life and occasioned so many separations between them. The early letters show the Churchills” spontaneous reactions to the commencement of the First World War; the tragic Battle of Gallipoli (1915—16), for which Churchill bore responsibility and which ended his early career in the Cabinet; his life in France as a military officer; the Peace Conference at Versailles; and the Republican crisis in Ireland, during which Churchill was an IRA assassination target and negotiated with the Republican forces. Later letters record his reaction to his long exile from office, his travels abroad, the deepening political crisis in Europe, and his reentry into government with the commencement of WWII. A large number of letters date from the WWII period, as Churchill’s leadership of the government necessitated prolonged absences from Clementine. While he lost his position as prime minister immediately after the war, he regained it briefly in the 1950s. While full of references to the world of public affairs, and the acts and personalities of great men, the letters also contain ample references to domestic matters and discuss the Churchills” five children, their friends and relations, and family events. The long dialogue finally ends with Clementine’s noting of Parliament’s vote of thanks to Churchill in 1964. A uniquely intimate contribution to Churchilliana and an engrossing record of a remarkable marriage. (133 b&w photos; 6 maps) (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 30, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-96319-2

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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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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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...


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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