VOL. II: 1939-1955

This mid-life installment of Greene's authorized biography has all the thrills of the writer's ``entertainments'' and the emotional complexity of his serious works. Picking up from the sometimes overly exhaustive Volume One (1989), this work covers a watershed quarter-century in Greene's life and literary career (as well as in 20th-century history) with nary a dull page. Greene's personal life alone in this period—the breakdown of his marriage during the Blitz, his impassioned affair with a married American while unable to free himself of either his wife or his previous mistress—had more than enough grief for two of his best novels, The Heart of the Matter and The End of the Affair, which Sherry shows were anguished reflections of his inner life. Yet with all his interviews and access to Greene's papers, even this astute biographer finds his work more accessible than his personality (not even Greene's friends and lovers could claim full intimacy with him). This natural secrecy made Greene a perfect spy, and during WW II he worked for MI6, a division of the British Secret Intelligence Service, in West Africa and London under his lifelong friend, the Soviet double agent Kim Philby, who provided Sherry with many memories of Greene's espionage career (not always reliably, the author later determined). With the end of the war and his marriage, Greene worked for a while as a publisher and screenwriter (most notably of The Third Man), but a later love affair churned up his suicidal nature, which drew him to the Malayan Emergency, the Mau Mau rebellion, and the Indochinese war. Sherry is at his best retracing Greene's activities in Vietnam, recreating the wartime atmosphere and investigating the sources and inspirations for—as well as the distortions in—The Quiet American. Sherry's admirable work beats out even the writer's own memoirs as the definitive account of his life, although Greene remains a character impossible to penetrate satisfactorily. (51 b&w photos and 6 illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-670-86056-5

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this 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

Did you like this book?