Next book



Though the anecdotes are unconnected, they are unfailingly entertaining.

A leading dealer in historical documents and artifacts delivers a delightful account of his business.

Raab, who writes the “Historically Speaking” column for, begins with an account of his education under the guidance of a father whose fascination with antiquities persuaded him to give up a prosperous legal career. “I had found my way to the emotional yet intangible heart of this trade in history,” he writes. “I came to understand what binds people to the physical traces of our history and its great men and women, why these artifacts and pieces of paper have such power. This isn’t an easy lesson, and no one can teach it to you. You have to learn it yourself.” The author emphasizes that it’s not a career for the faint of heart, requiring a scholar’s knowledge of history, a keen nose for fakes (a thriving industry), genuine-but-not-priceless items (many famous people’s letters were signed and often written by a secretary), and a sense of what will sell to collectors. A Benjamin Franklin letter discussing the Constitution brings a king’s ransom; another apologizing for arriving late for a meeting would attract far less interest. As skilled in satisfying readers as clients, Raab knows how to tell a story, chronicling how descendants of great historical figures invite him to their homes and reveal treasures. A survey report signed by the young George Washington looked like a bonanza until Raab’s research turned up another, identical including the corrections—and then another. An undistinguished collection of John F. Kennedy memorabilia included a tape of lost recordings from the plane carrying Kennedy’s body to Washington, D.C., after his assassination. In that case, the author’s joy was cut short when a government lawyer called him to demand it. The book also contains plenty of sad tales about certain family heirlooms, preserved for generations, that turned out to be reproductions.

Though the anecdotes are unconnected, they are unfailingly entertaining.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9890-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Next book


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

Next book



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

Close Quickview