Greenfield (A Day in the Life: One Family, the Beautiful People, and the End of the Sixties, 2009, etc.) delivers a compulsively readable, evenhanded biography of Atlantic Records’ founder.

The pampered son of the Turkish ambassador to the United States, Ahmet Ertegun (1923–2006) began promoting jazz concerts as a teen in Washington, D.C., with his older brother. Financed by a loan from his family dentist, he launched Atlantic in late 1947. With original partner Herb Abramson and ex-journalist Jerry Wexler, who joined the firm in 1953, Ertegun led one of the top independent labels of the wide-open ’50s, releasing major R&B hits by Big Joe Turner, Ruth Brown and Ray Charles. Presciently diversifying during the ’60s and early ’70s, Ertegun profitably tapped the rock zeitgeist by signing Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash and, in his biggest coup, the Rolling Stones (the subject of two previous books by Greenfield). Though Atlantic was sold to Warner-Seven Arts for $17.5 million in 1967, Ertegun stayed on with the company for nearly four more decades, serving as chairman through a period of unprecedented upheaval in the record industry until his death at 83. Though many of Greenfield’s tales have been spun before—notably in George W.S. Trow’s celebrated 1978 New Yorker profile and a 1991 biography by Dorothy Wade and Justine Picardie—his book is rich in detail and benefits from new interviews with several principal players. The author entertainingly delineates Ertegun’s on-the-money musical taste, flamboyant personal style, antic prank-playing and ability to mingle with personalities ranging from Henry Kissinger to Kid Rock. Though the author obviously admires his subject, he pulls no punches. Ertegun’s bare-knuckled dealings with Abramson and the volatile Wexler, both of whom were pushed out of the company they built, are unflinchingly recorded. His complex, often adversarial relationships with such industry peers as David Geffen and Doug Morris reveal a crafty gamesman who was never willing to surrender the upper hand in business. Ertegun emerges as a man of gargantuan gifts and equally heroic appetites who was ruthlessly adept at looking out for No. 1. A flavorful, balanced piece of music-biz history.


Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4165-5838-5

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2011

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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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