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DIANA IN SEARCH OF HERSELF

PORTRAIT OF A TROUBLED PRINCESS

An engrossing character study of the beautiful, brave, but psychologically bent princess who became an icon, by Vanity Fair contriduting editor Smith. Diana, her family, her friends, and the media who dogged her seemed bent on denying the serious emotional problems that shaped her private and sometimes public actions. According to Smith (Reflected Glory: The Life of Pamela Churchill Harriman, 1996), Diana almost certainly suffered from borderline personality disorder, a psychiatric diagnosis characterized by feelings of inferiority, dependence, and confusion about identity. Borderline personalities are often “self-destructive, easily depressed, panicky and volatile,” while superficially “charming, insightful, witty, and lively.” As revealed in this profile, backed by archival research and personal interviews, Diana was all of the above and more. Given to bulimia, self-mutilation, lies, and suicide attempts through most of her adult life, Diana’s problems began at six years old when her “childhood was shattered” by her parents’ separation; the pressure of her royal engagement brought all her insecurities to the surface. Charles was unable, although at first not unwilling, to cope. He arranged psychiatric counseling several times, to no avail. In 1985, Diana took the first of a series of lovers, and Charles turned to Camilla; envy, vengeance, pride, fear, rage, despair , and ignorance all played roles in the divorce that followed, says Smith. She maintains an even keel in assessing the princess, giving credit for her genuine devotion to her children as well as her warmth, compassion, and generosity. The author also acknowledges Charles for trying, if ineffectually, to help his wife, while indicting the British tabloid press for using her to sell newspapers. Probably not the definitive study (many witnessses to Diana’s life are still unwilling to talk on the record), but an informed and astute appraisal of the 20th century’s possibly most celebrated celebrity. (32 pages b&w photos, not seen) (First serial to People magazine; Literary Guild selection; author tour; TV satellite tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8129-3030-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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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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THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS

FROM MEAN STREETS TO WALL STREET

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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