It comes as a surprise to learn that Peter Drucker, the guru of business management, grew up among the intelligentsia of 1920s Vienna, where Freud's doings were discussed at the dinner table, social responsibility was de rigueur, and business was beneath notice. But Drucker decided early, he relates, to march to no common beat: on his fourteenth birthday he handed over the Young Socialist flag—that it was such an honor to carry—and headed home, "lonely" but "light-hearted." Still, one may conclude, reading about the memorable persons he came to know, that he was not so much a nonconformist as a natural-born observer, sizer-upper, and stasher-away. One, moreover, with a purpose: "to learn from success." So his arch, affectionate tribute to Miss Elsa and Miss Sophie, the fourth-grade mentors who "failed to teach me what both they and I knew I needed to learn" (how to write a clear hand and how to use simple tools) turns into an appreciation of Miss Elsa's Draconian workbooks and stepped goals, and Miss Sophie's veneration for craftsmanship. The two sisters—and the young, undoctrinaire Artur Schnabel (play what you hear)—also turned him into a lifelong "teacher-watcher," on the lookout for what worked. Some of his models held views antithetical to his, like the five Polanyis, all committed to finding a society that could provide "economic growth and stability, freedom and equality"; and one of these utopian socialists, Karl Polanyi, served as the sounding board, in 1940, for Drucker's theory of a coming "society of organizations," the basis of his interest in institutional management. Other stellar vignettes—of Fritz Kraemer, "the Man Who Invented Kissinger"; of English arch-dissenter Noel Brailsford—confirm Drucker's attraction to the true-believer, the throwback, the eccentric; and if his American exemplars are less flamboyant or bizarre (especially in their sexual pursuits), they still include such oddball achievers as Henry Luce and John L. Lewis, Buckminster Fuller and Marshall McLuhan. Drucker also gets off some unorthodox comments on American social institutions (he's big, for instance, on the small college) without letting his conservative bias make him less than stimulating and entertaining.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1979

ISBN: 1560007389

Page Count: 358

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1979


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



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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