Emling effectively shows her subject’s “extraordinary feats” as well as the immense difficulties facing those involved in...

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A FORGOTTEN HERO

FOLKE BERNADOTTE, THE SWEDISH HUMANITARIAN WHO RESCUED 30,000 PEOPLE FROM THE NAZIS

A biography of “the dashing Swedish diplomat who dared to breach Hitler’s inner circle during the waning days of World War II.”

Emling (Setting the World on Fire: The Brief Astonishing Life of St. Catherine of Siena, 2016), a senior editor at AARP.org, introduces us to Folke Bernadotte (1895-1948), a member of the Swedish royal family who was in a unique position to promote humanitarian projects throughout his long career. Health problems derailed his military career, but he maintained an interest in diplomacy. He represented Sweden’s king at Chicago’s Century of Progress Exposition in 1933 and served as Swedish commissioner general for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Later, he became vice president of the Swedish Red Cross. Though Sweden had practiced active neutrality since the 1920s, that stance was growing increasingly difficult to maintain in the face of rampant German aggression. In the spring of 1943, word leaked that Germany planned to round up and deport all the Jews in Denmark, and Danish physicist Niels Bohr convinced the king to allow the Jews into Sweden. Over the course of two weeks, fishermen ferried 8,000 to safety. Bernadotte was responsible for the first prisoner exchange between the Allies and Germany, a massive effort that benefitted thousands of POWs. With the end of the war looming, German prisoners were being quickly exterminated. Heinrich Himmler knew the war was lost, and Bernadotte convinced him to let Scandinavian prisoners be removed to a camp near Denmark. Himmler also hoped Bernadotte would carry a capitulation offer to Dwight Eisenhower. In March 1945, Bernadotte’s “White Buses,” under strict German control, retrieved prisoners from a series of camps. In April, Himmler finally said he could evacuate any prisoners he liked. Added to the white buses were more than 7,000 women from Ravensbrück.

Emling effectively shows her subject’s “extraordinary feats” as well as the immense difficulties facing those involved in humanitarian work during World War II.

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-77041-449-5

Page Count: 280

Publisher: ECW Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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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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