History at its most exciting and revealing.




A dense but enlightening history of a highly significant 18th-century vessel.

Moore (Creative Writing/Univ. of London and Univ. of Oxford; The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future, 2015, etc.) goes well beyond simple history or a mere tracking of the Endeavour’s exploits. Though the minutiae may seem daunting at first, readers should stick with it, as the narrative transforms into a page-turning, breathtaking adventure story for the ages. Built in 1764 and initially christened the Earl of Pembroke, the ship was flat-bottomed and featured an open hold, reinforced hull, and bulldog nose that was designed for strength rather than beauty. Her first life was as a collier, transporting coal to London. Enter Alexander Dalrymple, long a student of the South Seas, who was determined to find the southern continent, Terra Australis. The Royal Society appointed him as observer of the expected 1769 transit of Venus across the sun. The king’s funding made this an Admiralty voyage, which required a naval captain; officials didn’t choose Dalrymple, but they used his plans. James Cook would take the helm of the now renamed Endeavour, accompanied by naturalist Joseph Banks, who was well-versed in Carl Linnaeus’ new taxonomy system, and artist Sydney Parkinson. Idyllic days in Tahiti were followed by a complete circumnavigation and mapping of New Zealand and parts of Australia’s coast. The reactions to the ship’s arrival varied from distrust to fear to belligerence to aloofness. Her sudden discovery of the Great Barrier Reef illustrates just how perfect ship and captain were for the job. Among the many other discoveries thrillingly recounted by Moore: birds, fish, arthropods, and more than 30,000 botanical specimens. In her third life, the Endeavour made a series of journeys to the Falklands. As the author notes, “her biography roams across the history of the time, binding into a single narrative diverse moments of true historical significance.”

History at its most exciting and revealing.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-14841-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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