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A riveting, illuminating life of a remarkable woman.

The biography of Winston Churchill’s unfailing champion.

Political reporter Purnell (Just Boris: The Irresistible Rise of a Political Celebrity, 2011) offers a sharply drawn, absorbing portrait of Churchill’s elegant, strong-willed wife, who was also his adviser, supporter, protector, and manager. “You are a rock & I depend on you & rest on you,” Churchill wrote to Clementine during one of her many escapes from the overwhelming demands of her selfish, “dictatorial,” and petulant husband. A lonely, shy child raised by her distracted and often cruel mother, Clementine married Winston after a brief courtship and immediately decided, she said, “to give her life totally” to him, putting his needs before her own and those of their children. No matter what slings and arrows were aimed at him, she was convinced of his greatness. Purnell argues persuasively for Clementine’s importance to history: she functioned as her husband’s astute political strategist; insisted that he consider her liberal, feminist views; vetted his speeches; and campaigned for his successes. After his reputation suffered horribly from his role in the disastrous 1915 defeat in the Dardanelles, Clementine urged him to enlist in the Great War, from which he emerged with a “military halo.” During both wars, Clementine took an active role, organizing canteens for munitions workers and lobbying to improve conditions for women and children on the home front. With impeccable taste and a perfectionism that caused many servants to quit, she created a warm, welcoming home in which the rich, powerful, and influential gathered. Among her many challenges was money: frequently, they were turned out of government residences when Winston’s positions changed; and he spent impulsively, buying estates that proved to be money pits and speculating in the American stock market in the 1920s, leading to a severe loss. While he worked ferociously to earn money from publications, Clementine economized. Purnell is sympathetic to the strains of Clementine’s life but unapologetic about her maternal shortcomings.

A riveting, illuminating life of a remarkable woman.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-525-42977-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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