Heiress Marjorie Post was many things during her long life, but ``empress'' seems an overstatement. Post was one of the wealthiest women in the United States, but her life as described by journalist Rubin is hardly riveting. The most interesting character in this biography is her father, C.W. Post, an ambitious and inventive man who gave us the coffee substitute Postum and Grape Nuts cereal, the products on which the Post fortune was based. After her father committed suicide, Marjorie inherited Postum Cereals but, because she was a woman, felt she could not even sit on her own company's board of directors. She did insist that Postum Cereals buy a small business run by a man named Clarence Birdseye; in 1929, Postum incorporated Birdseye Frosted Foods and became the General Foods Corporation. Despite that business success, Post always considered her proper role to be wife and mother. She had four husbands: Edward Close, scion of an old-line Connecticut family and father of two of her daughters; E.F. Hutton, who built the famous brokerage firm and fathered her third daughter, actress Dina Merrill; US ambassador to Russia Joseph Davies; and business executive Herbert May. Marjorie shone as a hostess and homemaker, with establishments from the Adirondacks to the renowned Mar-a- Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. Her four-masted yacht, Sea Cloud, caused one of the few scandals in her life: It carried a cargo of luxury foods to Moscow to stock embassy larders when the strained Russian economy was short on staples. The yacht was later loaned to the US Navy for the duration of WW II, a public gesture atypical of Post's usually quiet generosity. When she died in 1973 aged 86, she had since grown deaf but was still flirting with idea of a fifth husband. Post's life was eventful, but Rubin's conventional narrative fails to convince one that it is a life worth writing about. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First serial to Town & Country)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-41347-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

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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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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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