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A brief but poignant work of memoir and history.

In a posthumous publication, the eminent former Israeli leader delivers a heartfelt appeal to the best in the Israeli Jewish character.

Although he was an early proponent of a vigorous Israeli defense system, aviation industry, and Dimona nuclear reactor, Peres (Ben-Gurion, 2011, etc.), who died in 2016, was known in his later career as a peace seeker. In this nonpolemical book, he candidly addresses this contradiction (“it was not me that changed; it was the situation that changed”). Born in 1923 in Poland, where, as a boy, the dream of Zionism caught his imagination, Peres was particularly inspired by the wisdom of his revered grandfather, who told the 11-year-old when he emigrated, “Promise me you’ll always remain Jewish.” A member of Ben Shemen Youth Village, farming on the frontier and also having to defend it from attack, Peres was caught up in the youth movement’s debates of how the country should operate politically, and he became a young leader, catching the eye of the legendary David Ben-Gurion. The author actively campaigned for statehood, and that meant having to prepare for a war against the Arabs. “What good is the birth of a new state,” Ben-Gurion’s logic ran, “if it’s immediately strangled in its crib?” Peres was appointed to transform the Haganah (later to become the Israel Defense Forces), and he comically depicts how he purchased arms directly from Czechoslovakia, then France, before the U.S. became a military supplier. Regarding the building of Dimona, the author cites Israeli policy of “nuclear ambiguity” as the effective deterrent in their enemies’ “belief that they could overpower us.” While Peres offers a self-glorying depiction of his role in the disastrous 1956 Suez Crisis, his desire to make peace with the Palestinians was sincere (he won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Yitzak Rabin and Yasser Arafat), and his drive to render the country a land of high-tech startups was truly visionary. Ultimately, Peres champions Israel as an immigrant nation strengthened by its “culture of chutzpah.”

A brief but poignant work of memoir and history.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-256144-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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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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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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