Actually, on the evidence here, Krassner—founder/editor of The Realist and the most outrageous cultural critic of his era—no longer raves now that he's in his 60s. Which is just as well, because otherwise it's hard to imagine the provocateur who published spurious outtakes of The Death of a President that had LBJ having sex with JFK's corpse being mellowed out enough to write this affectionate memoir of his countercultural life and times. Much of the fun here comes from sharing Krassner's gallery of famous friends, limned in generally crisp portraits and starting with publisher Lyle Stuart, who in 1958 bankrolled The Realist; Stuart's then-employer, Bill Gaines of Mad; and, a bit later, comic/junkie Lenny Bruce. As The Realist's fame grew, so did Krassner's circle, which came to encompass Groucho Marx (who took LSD with the author and soared on Bach); Abbie Hoffman (gutsy, wired) and Jerry Rubin (with whom Krassner formed the Yippie Party); Ken Kesey, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, John Lennon; Manson-slaves Sandra Good and Squeaky Fromme (who nearly seduced Krassner into a mÇnage Ö trois); and Larry Flynt (who in the late 70's hired Krassner as publisher of Hustler). Also nostalgia-worthy are Krassner's sepia-tinged memoirs of his N.Y.C. childhood (especially a humorous run-in with a dwarf at Coney Island) and of his first glimmers of the absurd. More personal-emotional and less interesting are his recollections of his paranoid breakdown in the 70's, and, a decade later, of his grappling with his daughter's sexual awakening; more scattered are his most recent memories, of reviving The Realist and joining the 60's Memory Lane circuit. There's little of the edgy naughtiness here that, at its peak, had Krassner publish an infamous cartoon of Disney characters at an orgy; what's taken its place is an engaging avuncular impishness that Krassner wears well—and even with dignity. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen) (First serial to Playboy and High Times)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-67770-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1993

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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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