MacRae tells of life with her glamorous husband, the alcoholic singer/gambler Gordon. Sheila and Gordon, who married young, were known for years as ``The Malted Milk Kids'' because of their clean living. A relative of famed actress Madame Sarah Siddons (in All About Eve, cunning Anne Baxter receives ``the Sarah Siddons award'') and renowned Shakespearean John Philip Kemble, Sheila gave up a promising acting career when she married Gordon and gave birth to four children. Gordon thought himself the world's greatest singer but turned down a career in grand opera to triumph in musicals, his greatest role being Curly in Oklahoma. Somewhere along the line, he picked up a drink, took to gambling, made nuttily huge bets on the turn of a card, and brought down the IRS on his and Sheila's heads. Bit by bit, Gordon fell apart. Sheila joined him in a lounge act but often had to go on alone or call in a celebrity replacement. At last, on the advice of Lucille Ball, Sheila separated from Gordon but for five more years could not commit herself to divorce. She found herself being talked into bed by JFK and later LBJ, and refused on both occasions, but apparently did become lovers for a long period with Frank Sinatra, who wanted to marry her, and with an anonymous ``Jewish Prince of Comedy.'' Meanwhile, Gordon tried AA, dropped out, but nonetheless wound up on the National Council on Alcoholism while maintaining—even on his deathbed—that he wasn't an alcoholic. Sheila went on to become the last Alice Kramden when Jackie's Gleason's Honeymooners became a TV musical series. Familiar but readable operatics among the supertalented and well paid as Sheila, here writing with veteran Jeffers (Who Killed Precious?, 1991, etc.) seeks her identity. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: May 1, 1992

ISBN: 1-55972-112-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Birch Lane Press

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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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...


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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