A thoughtful examination of the nature of service and the effects of violence on the human spirit.

IT HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO WAR

A MARINE'S PATH TO PEACE

Barcott's accomplishments—he's a retired Marine Corps captain and co-founder of a nonprofit organization serving Kenyan youth—provide the background for this debut memoir.

The author’s father, a Vietnam veteran who won a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, was a powerful role model for his son, and his mother, an anthropologist, was also important in shaping his worldview. When he was 14, Barcott joined his parents on a trip to Africa, which opened his eyes to the harsh reality of poverty. Five years later, he was studying Swahili at the University of North Carolina on a Marine scholarship in the hope of returning to Africa. At that time, before 9/11 and the launching of the War on Terror, Barcott expected that, as a Marine, he would be involved in humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping missions during his 8-year obligatory service. As it turned out, he was also put on active duty in Iraq. After his junior year, he received a grant to spend the summer in Kenya to research the effect of ethnic conflict on youth living in Africa's largest slum, Kibera. Living there, he shared food and lodging with his new friends. He writes movingly that he had “unique access to remarkable people,” who had a strong sense of community and were struggling to survive. Eventually, Barcott decided to partner with two of the people he met there to set up a mentoring program and to establish a community health service. In 2002, the organization became Carolina for Kibera. After graduating from UNC, he became an active-duty Marine. Despite his doubts about the Iraq war, he admits to a fascination with his own destructive impulses in the heat of battle.

A thoughtful examination of the nature of service and the effects of violence on the human spirit.

Pub Date: April 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60819-217-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2011

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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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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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