Frisky, affectionate, lushly illustrated, deeply informed and profoundly respectful.

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THE GERSHWINS AND ME

A PERSONAL HISTORY IN TWELVE SONGS

A multiple Grammy-winning performer of and advocate for American popular song offers the story of his long affection for the work of the Gershwins.

Feinstein (Nice Work If You Can Get It: My Life in Rhythm and Rhyme, 1995) begins with a swift account of how he met Ira Gershwin, the lyricist of the celebrated duo, and how he subsequently went to work for him for six years, researching, identifying and cataloging Gershwin materials. The author has hit upon a happy way to organize this dual biography/celebration: He selects a dozen classic Gershwin songs (from “Strike Up the Band” to “Love Is Here to Stay”), which he arranges not chronologically but biographically. This approach effectively illuminates the lives and careers of his principals. As the title indicates, Feinstein is the third subject. Although he tells the Gershwins’ stories, childhood to grave, he also relates his own history with their music and reveals his great respect for their achievements. Although Feinstein knew Ira and writes affectingly about his lyrics, his admiration of George—pianist and composer—soars. Repeatedly, he lauds George’s artistry at the keyboard and his enduring compositions. Feinstein also discusses the Gershwins’ love lives, the significant performers of their work (from Fred Astaire to Ethel Merman), their successes and flops, their experiences in Hollywood and the devastation of  George’s shocking death at 38 (brain tumor). The author includes stories about his own preferences and performances, tales of his avid collecting, minirants about music education and some shots at others (Virgil Thompson among them).

Frisky, affectionate, lushly illustrated, deeply informed and profoundly respectful.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4530-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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