A harrowing and horrifying tale told in spare and poignant prose—sometimes bitter, sometimes ironic, always powerful.

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JOURNEY TO A REVOLUTION

A PERSONAL MEMOIR AND HISTORY OF THE HUNGARIAN REVOLUTION OF 1956

A veteran writer and editor recalls his youthful, quixotic car trip to Budapest to deliver medical relief supplies during the brief Hungarian uprising against the Soviets in the fall of 1956.

A novelist, historian and memoirist who has written gracefully about a range of subjects (Ulysses S. Grant, 2004; Man to Man: Surviving Prostate Cancer, 1996; etc.), Korda turns his focus on the events of October and November 1956, when, in his view, the first cracks appeared in the Iron Curtain. Korda takes an unusual approach here: Some of his story is simply a swift summary of the Hungarian Revolution (admittedly adapted from more comprehensive histories); and some of it is his memoir of a sort of loopy, larkish car trip he and some similarly idealistic and foolish friends from England took into Hungary at the very moment tens of thousands of Soviet tanks were rolling into the country to squash the tiny (and unlikely) flower of freedom that was beginning to bloom amid Communist oppression. Korda makes a couple of key points. First, the brutality of the Soviet response cured many European and American leftists of their Communist sympathies. Second, the 1956 Suez Canal crisis, which was occurring at the same time, snuffed out the small flame of Hungarian hope that the United States would intervene in their country to oppose the Soviets. The author’s understandable anti-USSR attitude is evident throughout, even in his descriptions of Soviet diplomats with their bullet heads, gold teeth and shapeless, colorless suits. The most gripping parts of his story are, unsurprisingly, the personal ones. He sees corpses in the street, hears artillery shells land nearby, watches buildings implode, faces unsmiling Soviet tank officers who point their weapons at him. Chastened and frightened, he and his friends eventually depart the country in a British convoy.

A harrowing and horrifying tale told in spare and poignant prose—sometimes bitter, sometimes ironic, always powerful.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-077261-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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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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