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An invaluable complement to an immortal testimony.

Anne Frank, before and after the diary, with many new details and a fresh, welcome perspective.

In this updated edition of her superb 1998 biography, Müller (Alice's Piano: The Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, 2012) adds immeasurably to a well-known story, expanding on what the precocious young Anne Frank either didn’t say or didn’t know. Starting well before Anne’s birth, the author shows how her father, Otto Frank, established successful businesses selling fruit extracts and wholesale goods and, with his wife Edith, managed for a while to raise a family despite the growing Nazi threat. Otto could deal with the Wehrmacht by supplying goods to the Nazis (he hardly had any choice) and by trying to “Aryanize” his businesses. Of course, it couldn’t last, as the family would be forced to flee first to Amsterdam and then into the secret annex over one of Otto's businesses. They weren’t alone; some 20,000 to 30,000 Jews in Holland “saw going into hiding as their only alternative to deportation." Müller illuminates the shadows of Anne’s diary, particularly in casting the Franks’ loveless arranged marriage, which Anne accurately saw through, in a sympathetic and understanding light. She adds dimension to Anne’s picture of Edith, as well; the woman her daughter depicted as stern and cold was also trying desperately not to give in to despair. Müller likewise tells the full story behind Anne’s roommate, Fritz Pfeffer. The stiff-necked, middle-aged doctor whom Anne referred to as “Dussel” (Dutch for “dope”) also had no family support and feared for the safety of his fiancee and a son by a former marriage. Müller assesses Anne’s shifting moods, growing sexual awareness and her dual nature: the impish extrovert and the deeply private young writer. She also assiduously researches the details of Anne’s final days, as well as the fates of everyone else.

An invaluable complement to an immortal testimony.

Pub Date: June 11, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8731-4

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2013

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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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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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