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BLUE-EYED BOY

A MEMOIR

An empathetic and extremely candid memoir from a man who decided “to remember how I decided not to die…not let my future...

A distinguished journalist and former Marine’s account of returning home from Vietnam and finding personal and professional success despite life-altering disfigurement.

In January 1967, Timberg (State of Grace: A Memoir of Twilight Time, 2004, etc.) was days away from the end of his tour in Vietnam when his combat vehicle struck a land mine. He survived, but flames scorched his face and arms, leaving him with third-degree burns. In less than two years, Timberg underwent 25 of the 35 reconstructive surgeries he would need to regain his health. Yet by the end, he still looked “like a monster.” Uncertain of his future and in need of a career to support his growing family, Timberg studied journalism at Stanford, where he realized that although writing was a solitary profession, he would still have to interact with others as a reporter and show the face that marked him as a participant in an unpopular war. It was only after he landed his first job as a reporter for the Evening Capital in Annapolis and began engaging with his work that he began his “transition from victim” to committed journalist. Timberg quickly moved from covering local news to reporting on the Naval Academy. Ambitious and yearning for greater challenges, the author transferred to the Baltimore Sun, where he covered local politics and, eventually, the White House. But increasing success came at a price, including the end of his first marriage. Timberg also found that he could not leave his military past behind. In 1986, the Sun tapped him to cover the Iran-Contra scandal, which involved three Naval Academy graduates: Oliver North, Robert McFarlane and John Poindexter. The scandal, and the book that later emerged from it, became a kind of extended catharsis for Timberg. Both forced him to revisit his own brutal experiences and, in so doing, help a nation still tormented by Vietnam find the beginnings of its own peace.

An empathetic and extremely candid memoir from a man who decided “to remember how I decided not to die…not let my future die.”

Pub Date: July 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59420-566-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Awards & Accolades

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015


  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner


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  • IndieBound Bestseller


  • National Book Award Winner


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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NIGHT

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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