Toye considers this enormously complicated subject with admirable equanimity.




A dense, forgiving study of the great British leader who was both of his time and flexible enough to transcend it.

Churchill famously asserted that “he had not become Prime Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire,” although the gradual unraveling of proprietorship over India, Ireland, the African colonies, Palestine and parts of the Middle East occurred on his watch during the first half of the 20th century. Toye (History/Univ. of Exeter; Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness, 2007) seems to be writing for a new generation of post-Empire readers, many of whom need to be reminded that Churchill was cultivated within a British aristocracy at the apogee of Victorian expansion, wherein, as Churchill remarked in his early 20s, the motherland would “continue to pursue that course marked out for us by an all-wise hand and carry out our mission of bearing peace, civilisation and good government to the uttermost ends of the earth.” Although he was steeped in the work of Kipling, Gibbons and Winwood Reade, from whose The Martyrdom of Man he derived the idea that “Empire and progress went hand in hand,” Churchill did not subscribe to patronizing, racist views toward the empire’s “barbarous peoples.” Toye tracks the evolution of Churchill’s ideas through his early journalistic forays in India, which provided him a nuanced examination of “frontier policy” in The Story of the Malakand Field; his participation in the British campaign in the Sudan, where he witnessed firsthand atrocities committed by the British; observation of the war against the Boers and fate of the South African blacks, which prodded him in a more liberal direction as his parliamentary career took off; shifting “diehard” attitudes toward Irish Home Rule, Muslims, Hindus and Jews as global flashpoints erupted; and his evident struggle to “reconcile the demands of his conscience with those of political conformity.”

Toye considers this enormously complicated subject with admirable equanimity.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8795-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: John Macrae/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2010

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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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