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An overcautiously objective and unromantic approach to the French hybrid of T.E. Lawrence and Charles Lindbergh. Schiff, a former editor at Viking and Simon & Schuster, astutely begins at the middle, in 1927. Stationed in the Sahara as an airmail flyer, isolated and threatened by bandits, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry began writing seriously and developing his poetic philosophy. His aristocratic childhood outside Lyons was nurturing and idyllic, if marred by the early deaths of his father and his 15-year-old brother. Growing up in the era of the Wright brothers, he was enchanted by the airplane, and despite a desultory education and checkered employment, he obtained pilot training and a job at Aéropostale, a company in the vanguard of French aviation. His first literary success, Night Flight, romanticized his fellow flyers, their boss, and their routes; but it was published when Aéropostale was under public criticism for mismanagement (the company was subsequently liquidated). Saint-Ex found himself a celebrity just as his glory days were fading, and his literary career rose alongside chronic unemployment and failed aerial ventures (many of which ended in crashes) until he enlisted as a pilot in WW II; he disappeared while on an observation mission to France near the war's close. (The book's publication coincides with the 50th anniversary of his disappearance.) Schiff depicts Saint-Ex as a dreamy, lonely man unable to deal with quotidian life, whether finances, bureaucracies, or Gaullists. His marriage to an eccentric and emotionally unreliable South American was a further strain, and Schiff partially discloses his longtime affair with a married woman, who, still alive, refused a full revelation (even of her name). Schiff splits Saint-Ex metaphorically between these women, each vitally important to a different aspect of his personality. But unable to reveal one of them, she underplays the other as well. The result is a strangely static and unfeeling biography of the dynamic and sentimental author of The Little Prince. (16 pages of photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-40310-8

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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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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