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A lively, insightful account of FDR’s early years.

An account of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (1882–1945) first few years in politics.

FDR began his career in the shadow of Theodore Roosevelt, America’s most famous politician. By TR’s death in 1919, FDR was a fairly prominent national figure and the 1920 Democratic candidate for vice president. This is where veteran historian Weintraub (Pearl Harbor Christmas: A World at War, December 1941, 2011, etc.) ends this perceptive demi-biography of FDR’s political maturation under the eyes of two other great presidents. Barely related to Theodore (Eleanor was his niece), Franklin cashed in on his famous name but also worked hard in 1910 to win an upset victory and enter New York State’s legislature nearly 30 years after his namesake. He became popular among New York Democrats, and his defiance of Tammany Hall to support Woodrow Wilson in 1912 earned him appointment as assistant secretary of the Navy. Like TR, appointed to the same office in 1897, FDR took advantage of an easygoing boss to run the department with a pugnacious advocacy of naval expansion that made him a beloved figure in the service until the end of his life. The book is largely an account of his activities during eight years as an energetic member of the Woodrow Wilson administration, during which he refined the skills and met the men (and a few women) who figured in his own presidency. Weintraub does not ignore an unhappy Eleanor, rarely at his side, harassed with caring for six children and several large households and already suspicious of his wandering eye. Her political career did not blossom until the children were grown and FDR was in a wheelchair.

A lively, insightful account of FDR’s early years.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-306-82118-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Da Capo

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2013

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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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