A pleasure for true-crime buffs and a better read than Jeff Guinn’s Go Down Together (2009)—though Guinn breaks more news.

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BONNIE AND CLYDE

THE LIVES BEHIND THE LEGEND

Fast-paced account of the fast-lived lives of Mr. Barrow and Ms. Parker.

In Arthur Penn’s 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde, Faye Dunaway was a fine fit for Bonnie, who, said one eyewitness, “could turn heads.” Schneider (Brutal Journey: The Epic Story of the First Crossing of North America, 2006, etc.) is inclined to a touch more noirish poetry, describing the young Dallas waitress as looking “like a piece of candy…dressed in a funny uniform with enormous lapels, like some cross between a French maid and Raggedy Anne, and she’s barely taller than the big brass cash register on the counter.” But Warren Beatty? Well, Clyde Barrow wasn’t the king stud of the Texas bad guys—that honor went to a contemporary aptly named “Dapper Dan”—but rather a thin drink of water, albeit with a very bad attitude and a solid record of standing tall before judges. Schneider takes some risk in attempting to put himself into the heads of Bonnie, Clyde and assorted criminals and lawmen. But, as he points out in a note on sources, the story has been well covered before by numerous contemporaries of the Depression-era dastardly duo, so that there are plenty of primary sources to back up his claims. Schneider does a righteous job of understanding Bonnie and Clyde, and if they’re not wholly sympathetic—they did kill folks, after all—they’re not wholly monstrous either. Thanks to Penn’s film, there are plenty of people who have some sense of how they lived and died—spectacularly, and without much regard for the messes they left behind. Schneider shows how oddly accurate the film got at least those final moments, all rat-a-tat machine guns and chirping cicadas.

A pleasure for true-crime buffs and a better read than Jeff Guinn’s Go Down Together (2009)—though Guinn breaks more news.

Pub Date: May 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8672-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: John Macrae/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

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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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