Next book


A book that makes its point over and over again without belaboring it.

As the title suggests, this book shows how profound and pervasive the immigrant influence has been on American life.

Scratch beneath the surface of nearly any facet of what is considered American culture, and you’ll likely find the imprint of someone who came to the country from somewhere else. Such is the lesson of this collaboration between novelist Nović (Girl at War, 2015), who was born and raised in America within an immigrant family, and illustrator Kolesar, who emigrated from Scotland. Here, they celebrate more than 200 individuals, with capsule biographies of no more than a page and full-color portraits that attest to the cultural diversity and vitality of the immigrant influence. “There are 193 member states in the United Nations; this book contains at least one person from each of them,” states the introduction. One two-page spread on “Classic American Products” pays tribute to those responsible for Levi’s, hamburgers, Nathan’s hot dogs, Carvel ice cream, and Chevrolet, all-American iconography that owes its genesis to Germany, Denmark, Poland, Greece, and Switzerland, respectively. The all-American Chef Boyardee was known in his native Italy as Ettore Boiardi. After the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, when he “famously quipped to his doctors, ‘Please tell me you’re Republicans,’ ” three members of his medical team were from Malaysia, “Nicaragua/Mexico,” and “a refugee of Nazi Germany…raised in an American orphanage.” Lest anyone think this is a work of partisan ideology, among those celebrated is “the only naturalized citizen ever to become First Lady, Melania Trump,” balanced a couple of pages later by Hungarian refugee and billionaire human rights activist George Soros. As the narrative clearly shows, from music to fine arts, from the stage to the big screen, from scientific discoveries to athletic records, the history of American culture is impossible to record without significant immigrant representation.

A book that makes its point over and over again without belaboring it.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984819-82-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

Next book


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

Next book



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

Close Quickview