Not so much a conventional memoir as a series of anecdotes. While its insights are limited, those looking for glimpses into...

Game designer, entrepreneur, and adventurer Garriott de Cayeux explores a number of his escapades.

The author, who describes himself as a “serial enthusiast” with an “almost desperate need for adventure,” is best known as the creator of the first massively multiplayer online role-playing game, “Ultima Online.” During his Dungeons & Dragons–playing youth in the 1970s, he learned how to program computers; along with his brother, they began crafting video games, including a large number of “Ultima” games. His descriptions of the challenges of dealing with the surprising success of “Ultima Online,” though disappointingly brief, make up the most fascinating portion of the book. The author is clearly exhilarated to find ways to make his world more detailed and fend off those attempting to destroy it, and he is astonished to observe the growing intersection between the economy of his world and the real-world economy. With the fortune he made in his various companies, he has gone on to put his dreams into action: he built a haunted house for himself in Austin, Texas, rode in a submarine down to where the Titanic rests (and almost got trapped in the process), and, most famously, bought a two-week sojourn in the Russian section of the International Space Station, an experience he discusses mostly in relation to the difficulties of using the restroom in space. This is not a book in which other people feature heavily or in which the dots are connected, though the author’s stories are lively and entertaining. He embeds puzzles and games in the book for those who want to take it beyond the simple experience of reading.

Not so much a conventional memoir as a series of anecdotes. While its insights are limited, those looking for glimpses into an adventurous life should be pleased.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-228665-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016


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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