Voyeuristic and occasionally fascinating.



Kiss-and-tell memoir about the author's affair with President John F. Kennedy, beginning when she was a White House intern in 1962.

Alford describes life as a debutante and the import her parents placed on The Social Register. In 1961, as a high-school senior at Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Conn., she attempted to set up an interview with one of the school's alumna, Jacqueline Kennedy, then the First Lady. Her request was declined, but she was nevertheless invited to visit the White House. There she was introduced to JFK, whose charisma struck her at once. The following year she was offered a summer internship in the White House press office. On her fourth day, Alford writes, she received a phone call from one of JFK's closest aides, Dave Powers, asking her to come for a swim in the White House pool. As she swam in a borrowed suit, the president appeared and asked to join her. That evening, the president offered the star-struck 19-year-old a personal tour of his residence and, in Mrs. Kennedy's bedroom, deflowered her. Alford is adamant that their sex was consensual, yet other aspects of their affair, which lasted from June 1962 to November 1963, bordered on brutish. The author describes two instances in which the president urged her to service other men sexually and another involving his insistence that she take amyl nitrite. Alford also discusses how she joined him on trips around the country, where they met for trysts in hotel rooms. The rest of the book is light on personal revelations and salacious details, but its subject alone should be enough to guarantee bestseller status. The first half, which unpacks her affair, is far more compelling than the second, which tracks the author's life after JFK’s assassination.

Voyeuristic and occasionally fascinating.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6910-1

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2012

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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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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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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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