Lee is a man for the ages, and Korda delivers the goods with this heart-wrenching story of the man and his state. Readers...

A masterful biography of the beloved Civil War general.

Former Simon & Schuster editor in chief and acclaimed biographer Korda (Hero: Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia, 2010) is well-acquainted with heroes of the ages and has learned to present his subjects as true human beings with foibles, faults and failures. Robert E. Lee’s (1807-1870) days at West Point showed him to be a master engineer and master of maneuvers, talents borne out in the Mexican-American War and in the making of St. Louis as an important port on the Mississippi River. Those abilities came into play throughout the Civil War, as he built the defenses for Northern Virginia that protected it when all seemed lost. George Washington was Lee’s idol, and during his schooling, he discovered the writings of Napoleon, which he applied throughout his life—especially the use of speed, audacity and élan to defeat an army twice the size of his forces. Lee was a member of one of Virginia’s oldest families, and his devotion was to his state, family and country, in that order. He felt that secession was unmerited and that slavery should not be extended but be allowed to dwindle away. Korda’s clear descriptions of Lee’s battles illuminate his closest subordinates, especially Stonewall Jackson and James Longstreet, his curious methods of leading and his incredible patience. The author also points out that, as a gentleman, Lee would never raise his voice in anger, and he avoided confrontation and gave his orders as “if practicable”—unfortunately, that became a way out for those who disagreed with his strategies and “knew better.” It was Lee who kept the South going as his barefoot army starved and froze but followed him with unqualified devotion.

Lee is a man for the ages, and Korda delivers the goods with this heart-wrenching story of the man and his state. Readers with the stamina for long biographies should follow this book with S.G. Gwynne's biography of Stonewall Jackson, Rebel Yell, to publish in September.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-211629-1

Page Count: 832

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014


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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