Sir Paul once remarked to the author, “We were just four kids trying to earn a living.” They were much, much more, of...

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BEATLES '66

THE REVOLUTIONARY YEAR

A pleasing romp through the Beatles’ annus mirabilis.

The year 1966 was the year of “Revolver,” with the band looking back into “Rubber Soul” and forward into “Sgt. Pepper.” Paul McCartney hung out with Brian Wilson, and sparks—good sparks—flew. Most of all, as London-based music journalist Turner (Popcultured: Thinking Christianly About Style, Media and Entertainment, 2013, etc.) notes in passing, it was a time when John Lennon was happy enough with his mates that he could foresee doing solo projects but keeping the Beatles going: “You need other people for ideas and we all get along fine.” December 1965, when Turner’s account begins, sees the beginning of a new phase that would find the Beatles within the studio and out of the public eye; as he reckons, the Beatles had played 188 gigs in Britain in 1962, but only 50 in 1965, in part because of the demands of worldwide touring but also because they were about to put an end to touring at all, thanks in some measure to some very unpleasant experiences in places like the Philippines. Turner provides some interesting side notes throughout, as with the Beatles’ interactions with Motown and its stars. The account closes a year later, with some interesting divergences; as Turner writes, Lennon and the lads were deep inside “Strawberry Fields Forever,” trying to find the missing element that would turn the song into magic, but broke away from it to record the very different McCartney vehicle “When I’m Sixty-Four,” a song with what Paul called a “rooty tooty” sound. Lennon’s comment about the Beatles’ popularity compared to that of a certain messiah notwithstanding, a splendid time was had by all, and Turner’s account is generally light and lighthearted, if occasionally disjointed.

Sir Paul once remarked to the author, “We were just four kids trying to earn a living.” They were much, much more, of course, and while he breaks little new ground, Turner does a nice job of capturing them at their best.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-247548-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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