From jazz singer TormÇ (It Wasn't All Velvet, 1988, etc.)—an engaging warts-and-all life of the world's greatest drummer, Buddy Rich. A life of Rich has its problems, particularly his terrible mouth, which stripped flesh from bone without a second's notice and for next to no reason. At 18 months, Rich joined his parents on the vaudeville stage as a wonderchild of the drums. Soon ``Traps'' was a featured act, at last getting top billing wherever he played. Completely lacking a formal education, Rich spent his whole life on the road. An adulated jazz drummer who drew shouting audiences to their feet daily and became the featured soloist of famed swing bands led by Harry James, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, etc., the performer lived an emotionally surreal life. On top of this, though he didn't drink (it would have ruined his timing), he smoked pot daily from age 18 onward. As with heavy dope-smoker Bob Marley, TormÇ wonders whether pot contributed to the brain tumors that finally killed Rich. In some ways, the drummer's greatest successes were with others' big bands. His own big band (first underwritten by fellow Dorseyite Frank Sinatra) folded time and time again. Rich made many movies and became a regular on The Tonight Show, his acerbic barbs delighting drum-lover Johnny Carson. But he lost friend after friend, his vitriol scarring all without reservation, though he mellowed late in life when the birth of a grandchild somehow freed him to love himself through the baby. Otherwise, he seemed entirely without feeling, until one day he dragged TormÇ to see his favorite film, Norma Shearer's Smilin' Through. TormÇ got MGM to put the movie on videocassette as a present for Rich, but Rich alienated TormÇ by vilely insulting him at the very moment the present was given. Exceptional on music biz and drum techniques while humanizing an emotional monster. A labor of love.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-19-507038-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1991

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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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