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A surprisingly multifaceted work that delves deep into the personal and the political.

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A debut memoir reflects on a life of serving others, from fighting AIDS in Africa to securing health funding in the United States.

Born to a family of Philadelphia sandwich shop owners in the early 1960s, Zeitz was heavily affected at a young age when he learned about the Holocaust. From that point on, he vowed to make sure he would not sit idly by during any future genocide. Relying on a defiant spirit to achieve his goals, the author pursued a medical degree, eventually becoming an osteopathic physician. In college, he met Mindi Cohen, and after some ups and downs, they were married in the early ’90s. After his wedding, Zeitz took a position in Nigeria to do fieldwork for a short time and then became a field epidemiologist in the American Southwest, where he and Mindi had their first child. After that, he worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development health program across the world, particularly in Africa. He then moved his wife and three kids to Zambia to become a government health adviser, covering many bases—AIDS, nutrition, and population. There, he saw up close the devastating impact of AIDS in Africa, adopted an orphaned child, and attempted to get more funds from the United States—sometimes to the chagrin of his bosses. After one too many steps over the line, the author moved back to America, where he became a successful activist, working with (and sometimes against) the government to raise money for AIDS outreach. But the unearthing of a dark family secret threatened to unravel all of his accomplishments. In his engrossing book, Zeitz ably finds a way to balance the telling of his personal and professional challenges and achievements and is particularly effective in showing how they affect one another. It is hard to doubt his commitment to his titular cause as he writes with a furious passion that seems to enjoin readers in a global struggle. At one point in Zambia, he stopped to see what merchants were hawking: “They were selling coffins—adult-sized, and ones small enough for children and babies. The injustice I saw in front of me burned like a raging fire through my soul.” But the author also unflinchingly describes his own mistakes and traumas, making for a well-rounded character study.

A surprisingly multifaceted work that delves deep into the personal and the political.

Pub Date: June 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-982205-44-7

Page Count: 370

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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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

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