An object lesson in misguided tell-all writing: A woman hounded by the media while raising an infant fathered by a cheating...

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WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

JOHN EDWARDS, OUR DAUGHTER, AND ME

The proximate cause of John Edwards’ political unraveling has a few scores to settle.

Hunter occupied the center of the oddest sideshow of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign: That summer, reports emerged that she had a child with the North Carolina senator, sparking months of denials (including a campaign staffer’s false claim that he was the father). Hunter’s clumsily written memoir is an extended exercise in blame assignment: Edwards’ friends and campaign aides for being greedy, careerist, and manipulative; Edwards’ wife for being a bully; and Edwards himself for being, as she told him at their first fateful meeting, “so hot!” To avoid furtive trysts as their affair deepened, she was hired to film Edwards’ travels for online “webisodes.” Hunter expresses an almost total disinterest in the politics she covered, and on the road, she rained contempt on nearly everybody surrounding the candidate. (In one instance, she recalls “some poverty woman who was really snotty to me.”) Hunter reserves her deepest fury for Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, who’s portrayed cartoonishly, forever screaming at her cowering husband. That Elizabeth’s outrage might be justified by her husband’s philandering seems to entirely escape Hunter, who rationalizes her status as a mistress by claiming that the Edwards’ marriage was loveless and sexless. (Elizabeth’s death from cancer in 2010 hardly softens her tone.) The flimsy prose, peppered with all-caps exclamations and high school-age sarcasm, grows even more tedious in the later chapters, as the author chronicles legalistic parrying over who paid how much to whom out of which accounts. The mood is lightened by photos of Hunter and Edwards with their daughter, Quinn, but a seething sense of superiority and entitlement persists.

An object lesson in misguided tell-all writing: A woman hounded by the media while raising an infant fathered by a cheating man manages to render herself unsympathetic.

Pub Date: June 22, 2012

ISBN: 978-193785640-3

Page Count: 247

Publisher: BenBella

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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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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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

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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

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