Unaffected, lucid, and entertaining: One of the best rock memoirs in recent memory.

The lead singer of The Who tells all—sometimes laconically, sometimes archly, but always unflinchingly.

Daltrey begins and ends his charming, too-short memoir with a common trope: a teacher who tells him he’ll never amount to anything. He reveals a rosebud early on, too: a flannel shirt that his loving mother bought him so that he wouldn’t have to suffer his school’s “itchy, scratchy, horrible, bloody pullover.” Toughened by the hardscrabble neighborhood in which he was raised, beaten up for his refusal to back down, Daltrey earned a reputation for bellicosity, including punching out his band mates in The Who, the band he founded and to which longtime foil Pete Townshend was a latecomer. (In one notorious row, Townshend punched first, getting knocked out for his troubles.) The author’s affection for his band mates is evident, though he is less than patient with the late bassist John Entwistle, who never played at any volume other than loud and spent his considerable fortune on drugs. Along the way, Daltrey reveals a few tricks of the trade, including how he came to swing his microphone so vigorously and potentially lethally. “I started twirling my microphone not because of my ego,” he writes, “but because I didn’t know what to do with my hands during the solos.” He also reveals how the band’s considerable stagecraft evolved as a way to fill a stadium that, unlike the Beatles’ audiences, was not overrun by screaming girls. Thus they made their own deafening roar, for which reason, notes Daltrey with pleasing self-deprecation, “septuagenarian Pete and me have to ask you to say that again, only a bit louder.” The author praises Townshend for his indefatigability and work ethic, but it’s clear he lacks neither: After all, while his mates were doing drugs, he was stripping varnish off medieval beams and building lakes on his country estate, a pastime he recommends. Throughout, he allows, he’s been “a lucky bugger.”

Unaffected, lucid, and entertaining: One of the best rock memoirs in recent memory. 

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-29603-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2018


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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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