THE PROMISE OF PARADISE

A WOMAN'S INTIMATE STORY OF THE PERILS OF LIFE WITH RAJNEESH

A live-wire account of Franklin's 13 years as a disciple of the notorious collector of Rolls-Royces and hungry souls. This isn't the first report on Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and how his spiritual movement degenerated into a paramilitary farce, but it's the most balanced yet personally intense to date, avoiding the finger-pointing of Kate Strelley's The Ultimate Game (1987) and Hugh Milne's Bhagwan (1986). Some of the force of Franklin's memoir arises from her veteran writing skills—she ghostwrote Rajneesh's first two books—and the rest from her willingness to bare her innermost psychic currents and not turn her back on a decade's worth of spiritual ecstasies. (Upon her first meeting Rajneesh, ``he patted me gently on the head and the whole world disappeared''; months later, during a ritual celebration, ``carried along by the pulsating rhythm of the music and the energy of Bhagwan's presence, the top of my head suddenly exploded with the most powerful orgasm I'd ever experienced''). Yet without denying Rajneesh's apparently very real ability to transform the psychic states of tens of thousands, Franklin owns up to the terrible price paid by those who bought the ``dreams'' of this ``spiritual Master.'' She herself, to her deep regret, abandoned three children in order to move from suburban N.Y.C. to India and then to Oregon to be with Rajneesh, and—as chronicled in a freshly shocking recap of the well-known rise to power of Rajneesh's hit-woman Sheela, with unprecedented details of mass poisonings and drug-dealing added—the movement as a whole confused spiritual guidance with slavery, selling its soul in the bargain. Franklin ``still [doesn't] know if Bhagwan Rajneesh [who died in 1990] was a madman or a messiah, a charlatan or a saint''—and by courageously confessing both the good and the evil he spawned, she's written a compelling memoir that's also a notable cautionary document of spiritual search.

Pub Date: April 25, 1992

ISBN: 0-88268-139-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1992

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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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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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