A welcome excavation of an obscure corner of Holocaust history.

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LEFT TO THE MERCY OF A RUDE STREAM

THE BARGAIN THAT BROKE ADOLF HITLER AND SAVED MY MOTHER

The son of a Holocaust survivor rehearses the horrors of his mother’s captivity, the improbability of her survival, and the deleterious lingering effects on her—and him.

Goldman (Loyola Law School, Los Angeles), the on-air legal editor for Fox News from 1996 to 2006, has several objectives here: to outline a piece of the history of the Holocaust (grim reminders of inhumanity appear on virtually every page), tell his mother’s remarkable story, ruminate about the perpetrators of the atrocities, and condemn those who profited by it, especially Alfried Krupp, whose family and wartime business found great success because of the Nazi war machine—and because of the labor of Jewish slaves. Although the author focuses primarily on his mother, he occasionally employs a wide-angle lens to show us what was going on throughout war-torn Europe; he even deals some with the stories of Anne Frank, Raoul Wallenberg, and other Holocaust icons. His mother’s story is astonishing; her survival, virtually impossible. As the war was winding down, she was working in the concentration camp at Ravensbrück and would almost certainly have died there if not for one man’s negotiation with Heinrich Himmler, who, seeing the end of the war (and realizing what would happen to him), made a deal to release some Jewish women, Goldman’s mother among them. She then traveled to Sweden, stayed about a year and a half and immigrated to America, where she married (the Nazis had shot her first husband) and gave birth to the author. Her dark memories never left her, and Goldman describes his own difficulties dealing with her as she aged and struggled. The author works hard to maintain a scholar’s tone in his text, but throughout, he also shows us the blood of millions seeping through his pages.

A welcome excavation of an obscure corner of Holocaust history.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-64012-044-0

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Potomac Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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