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A compelling look at a modest figure in the Freud-Adler controversy.

A moving biography of classical scholar David Oppenheim by his grandson, eminent philosopher Singer (Rethinking Life and Death, 1995, etc.).

As a 23-year-old classics student at the University of Vienna in 1905, Oppenheim feared that he had chosen a field of study in which he could not do work of real value. In 1906, he married Amalie Pollak, one of a handful of female students at the university, and began teaching classics at a Vienna high school. By a stroke of luck, he was invited to participate in a weekly seminar in Sigmund Freud’s apartment; by 1910, he was coauthoring a monograph on dreams in folk tales with Freud and was an active member of the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society. When another member of the society, Alfred Adler, was forced to resign as chairman because of his escalating disagreements with Freud, Oppenheim chose to support Adler and placed in jeopardy the greatest scholarly opportunity he ever got. (The coauthored monograph was not published during his lifetime.) Becoming an active member in Adler’s group, the Society for Free Psychoanalytical Research, Oppenheim published extensively even when drafted to the eastern front in 1914. He came home to his wife and daughter in 1918 shell-shocked, wounded, and exhausted from war. Returning to teaching and lecturing, he saw Adler’s organization falling prey to the same “cult of personality” as Freud’s. Devastated, he withdrew from the society and never published again, directing all of his energies toward his students. But after the Nazis annexed Vienna in 1938, David was not allowed to set foot in the school where he had taught for 30 years. The Oppenheims tried unsuccessfully to follow their daughter to Australia, but they were instead transported to Theresienstadt. David died there in 1943; Amalie survived and emigrated to Australia in 1946. Focusing primarily on his grandfather, Singer also follows the extended Oppenheim family, and paints a many-layered portrait of intellectual life in Vienna.

A compelling look at a modest figure in the Freud-Adler controversy.

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-050131-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2003

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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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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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