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A vivid portrait of a remarkable woman.

An accomplished and determined woman transcended racial barriers to rise to prominence.

Carter (Law/Yale Univ.; Back Channel: 2014, etc.), former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, celebrates the life of his grandmother, Eunice Hunton Carter (1899-1970), who forged an astonishing legal career that included successfully prosecuting mobster Lucky Luciano. At the age of 8, Eunice told a young friend that she wanted to become a lawyer “to make sure the bad people went to jail.” Two decades later, she acted on that desire. After graduating with degrees from Smith College, a married mother of a 2-year-old son enmeshed in the social whirl of upper-society Harlem, she realized that she was thoroughly bored. She enrolled at Fordham Law School, one of the few that admitted women and blacks, and earned a law degree in 1932. Two years later, the GOP tapped her to run for New York state assembly against the Democratic incumbent: “Black and female, conservative and brilliant, charming and charismatic,” she seemed the perfect candidate. Although she lost that race, the campaign gave her visibility, and soon Mayor Fiorello La Guardia appointed her to a special commission to investigate rioting and unrest that had erupted in Harlem. Her career took off in 1935, when Special Prosecutor Thomas Dewey hired her to join his team investigating mob activities in New York. It was, writes Carter, “the job every young lawyer wanted.” Eunice became Dewey’s staunch supporter, campaigning for him when he ran for Manhattan district attorney, New York governor, and president against Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman. Yet he always picked others to fill important appointments. Nevertheless, Eunice’s many social and political activities earned her widespread admiration. Carter places Eunice’s experiences in the context of American culture, politics, and her own family: her activist mother; her defiant brother, whose Communist Party membership, Eunice believed, threatened her career; and her son (the author’s father). Eunice could be imperious, “judgmental and often dismissive,” impatient and aloof. Quitting, the author writes, “was not in her nature.”

A vivid portrait of a remarkable woman.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-12197-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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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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