An overdue comprehensive biography of a giant of mid-20th-century American politics.

ON HIS OWN TERMS

A LIFE OF NELSON ROCKEFELLER

Presidential library director and C-SPAN in-house historian Smith (The Colonel: The Life and Legend of Robert R. McCormick, 1997, etc.) delivers a monumental biography of the charismatic vice president and four-term governor of New York.

Grandson and namesake of the two most hated men in Progressive-era America, Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller (1908-1979) was determined "to succeed despite his name” and to "polish the Rockefeller legacy like fine silver" through public service and the socially responsible use of the immense wealth and influence at his disposal. Rockefeller was the last of the titans of progressive Republicanism. "He had long believed that his country, like his family, must justify its riches through good works and the sharing of wealth,” writes Smith. He worked comfortably in appointed positions in Republican and Democratic administrations but ultimately "hungered for the legitimacy uniquely bestowed by the ballot box." As governor of New York, Rockefeller advanced measures combating discrimination in various forms and engaged in a building boom, much of it financed through constitutionally dodgy bonding schemes. In national politics, however, Rockefeller ultimately proved too liberal for the Republicans, the pillar of the "eastern establishment" at a time when the party was becoming more stridently conservative. In person, Rockefeller was a force of nature—optimistic, impatient, hard-charging and strikingly virile, engaging in sex with subordinates in a way that would never be hidden or tolerated today. Ironically, his presidential hopes were scotched by his very public divorce and remarriage, along with a considerable measure of tactical ineptitude. Rockefeller's enormously full life as a diplomat, bureaucrat, politician, businessman, and avid collector and proponent of modern art justifies the prodigious scale of this intensively researched work, presented in sturdy, confident prose with the occasional well-placed barb. The author maintains a dignified objectivity throughout, recounting events with penetrating perceptivity but refraining from intrusive editorial comment or analysis.

An overdue comprehensive biography of a giant of mid-20th-century American politics.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0375505805

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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

Did you like this book?

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 17

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

BECOMING

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

Did you like this book?

more