A splendid catalogue of McPartland’s achievements, although readers may stumble in the great tangle of detail.

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SHALL WE PLAY THAT ONE TOGETHER?

THE LIFE AND ART OF JAZZ PIANO LEGEND MARIAN MCPARTLAND

The story of the distinguished female jazz pianist who devoted herself to her art and won popularity, the respect of her colleagues and just about every honor the profession bestows.

There will not be a more richly detailed biography of McPartland (born in 1918 in Slough, England, as Margaret Marian Turner). McPartland has led an extraordinarily peripatetic life, and Seattle Times music writer de Barros seems to have been a stowaway in her luggage. He has very few negative observations: She could be crusty (especially later on); she didn’t like to read music; she sometimes had trouble keeping a consistent beat; not all her albums were good. Otherwise, this is a tribute to McPartland’s talent (she learned to play by ear as a girl), her determination to forge a career in jazz, her writing ability (she published in DownBeat and elsewhere) and her ongoing artistic evolution. The author also chronicles the serpentine route of her relationship with her American husband, the late cornetist Jimmy McPartland, whose drinking problems came and went—as did their ability to live together. She played with Jimmy from time to time but also had her own career—and her own love affairs, including a long-term one with legendary drummer Joe Morello. De Barros tells us about her albums (quoting the reviews—even the bad ones) and marvels at McPartland’s versatility and success with Piano Jazz, her NPR show that began in 1978. (The book’s title comes from her customary question to her guest on the show.) The author also charts her fierce devotion to jazz education and, sadly, her physical decline.

A splendid catalogue of McPartland’s achievements, although readers may stumble in the great tangle of detail.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-55803-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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