Thoroughly, lovingly researched, this is weakened a bit by inconsistencies of style and organization. (22 b&w...

A motley and admiring memoir of the remarkable woman known as “Anna O.” in Studies on Hysteria by Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud.

Guttman (Speech, Theater and Media Studies/City Univ. of New York) has done the work demanded by her daunting subject. She visited all the relevant sites, read everything there is to read, visited every useful archive, and devoted ten years to the project. As a result, she has brought to life the amazing Bertha Pappenheim (1857–1936), who, once she emerged from her “hysteria” (exacerbated if not engendered by the illness and death of her beloved father), devoted herself with fierce intelligence and passion to a variety of feminist, Jewish, and humanitarian causes until she died of cancer on the eve of the Holocaust. Guttman could not discover much about Pappenheim’s childhood, so she picked up the story in 1880 when Bertha, who was raised in comfort in a prosperous Jewish home in Vienna, began to suffer from a variety of debilitating symptoms with no evident medical cause. The early chapters deal principally with Bertha’s profound and intimate relationship with her physician (Breuer), who was developing with Bertha the “talking cure” that would provide the foundation for the nascent field of psychotherapy. Breuer was not completely successful, so Pappenheim was confined for some time in asylums before her eventual recovery. Afterwards she never married and spent her long, productive career writing fairy tales, plays, short stories, and feminist articles, and establishing and running an important Jewish women's organization as well as a home for unwed Jewish mothers. She was a lifelong opponent of prostitution and a lifelong advocate for women’s rights. There are some problems, none mortal, with Guttman’s approach. Several times she gets wrong the titles of Mary Wollstonecraft’s works (which an admiring Pappenheim translated), she sometimes substitutes jargon for analysis, and several chapters consist entirely of translations of Pappenheim’s stories, letters, and prayers—items whose relevance to Pappenheim’s biography Guttman does not always convincingly demonstrate.

Thoroughly, lovingly researched, this is weakened a bit by inconsistencies of style and organization. (22 b&w illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-55921-285-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001


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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