A stunning work that looks frankly at the “roots of evil.”

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1941

THE YEAR THAT KEEPS RETURNING

A chilling personal account of the deep-seated terror and ethnic violence underpinning the puppet state of Croatia during World War II.

In a memoir that came to light thanks to the attention of Belgrade-born poet Charles Simic, who offers an elucidating introduction here, Croatian editor and historian Goldstein, born in 1928, not only recounts his intimate grief resulting from the murder of his father by the fascist Ustasha thugs that came to power with Croatia’s “independence” in 1941, but he encapsulates the ongoing anguish of the multiethnic groups of the former Yugoslavia that are still convulsed by sectarian hatred. With the encouragement of Hitler—who suggested to the Ustasha chief that in order for Croatia to become a stable state, “it would have to carry out a policy of ethnic intolerance for fifty years”—the Ustasha regime was bent on “cleansing” the Croatian state of Serbs as well as Jews and Gypsies. Goldstein’s father, a prosperous Jewish bookseller, had communist and intellectual connections, and thus several strikes against him in the views of the fascists, who first imprisoned him in the Danica concentration camp, then the formidable Jadovno death camp, before he was systematically executed. The author was barely 13 years old at the time, but he was shocked into adulthood quickly, especially as he witnessed the betrayal of former friends and colleagues. With his mother imprisoned and the author moved among different homes, Goldstein and the remaining family eventually joined the Croatian partisan fighters camped out in the forests. In this riveting narrative, the author often refers to the recent Croat-Serb ethnic violence in an attempt to explain how “modern Croatia has not been freed from this disease, and it is only in the last few years that it has begun to be treated for it.”

A stunning work that looks frankly at the “roots of evil.”

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-59017-673-3

Page Count: 640

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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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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