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Terrific detective work revealing a man determined to forge his own destiny when his country said he couldn’t.

The picaresque adventures of a former slave’s son who achieved glory in both world wars and was nearly forgotten by his own country.

Two intrepid authors and researchers—military historian and former Navy aviator Keith (America and the Great War: A 100th Anniversary Commemorative of America in World War I, 2019, etc.), a Purple Heart recipient, and Clavin (Wild Bill: The True Story of the American Frontier’s First Gunfighter, 2019, etc.)—team up in this dogged effort to excavate the facts of the amazing life of Eugene Bullard (1895-1961). In 1959, France recognized the achievements of the American pilot and soldier with its highest honor, the Legion of Honor, which subsequently gained Bullard, then an elevator operator at Rockefeller Center, his 15 minutes of fame on The Today Show. However, there was much that was never revealed in Bullard’s remarkable trajectory from indigent runaway to Jazz Age impresario and many details he fudged or perhaps forgot in an era of turbulent race relations when he later wrote his autobiography. Two traumatic events in his childhood propelled him to strike out on his own at age 11: the death of his Creek Indian mother when he was 6 and a white mob’s threatening to lynch his Haitian-born laborer father after a violent altercation with his foreman. Bullard managed never to look back, and the “French connection” from his roots propelled him to “a land where racial prejudice did not exist”—or so he imagined. The authors diligently pursue his story: learning to box in Scotland and then arriving in France just as World War I broke out; getting wounded at Verdun before embarking on a legendary, if short-lived position as a fighter pilot, probably the first black American to do so; and forging a career as a nightclub and athletic club owner in Paris before his next soldierly stint in World War II. Keith and Clavin constantly keep readers guessing about Bullard’s next move.

Terrific detective work revealing a man determined to forge his own destiny when his country said he couldn’t.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00556-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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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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