Although his monumental contribution to the national welfare is largely forgotten today, Jesse Jones (1874–1956) was widely considered to be one of the most powerful men in America—second only to FDR—during the years of the Great Depression and World War II.

Fenberg—an officer for the Houston Endowment and the producer and writer of the Emmy Award–winning documentary “Brother Can You Spare a Billion: The Story of Jesse H. Jones”—chronicles how Jones played a central role in the development of Houston into a major commercial and financial center, before moving to Washington D.C. to head the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and its many spinoff agencies. The author locates his work on the national scene within the broader context of what he views as the successes of the New Deal. As a leading Texas Democrat, Jones came to the attention of Woodrow Wilson and was given an important role in coordinating international-relief efforts along with Herbert Hoover. Upon assuming office, Roosevelt chose Jones to head the RFC, which rapidly morphed into a leading institution of the New Deal, with chief responsibility for getting the economy back on track. By 1934, Jones faced problems similar to issues today. Despite the massive infusion of capital into failing banks to increase their liquidity, credit to industry remained largely frozen. Jones then sought and received authority to make loans directly to credit-worthy businesses, both large and small, and began financing national infrastructure development. Jones warned against balancing the budget by cutting back on New Deal stimulus and relief efforts, and his views were borne out in the 1937 recession. During WWII, the RFC, under his direction, played a major role in the reconversion of American factories, the development of synthetics such as rubber and the maintenance of an international supply line where possible. A somewhat-forgotten page of U.S. history that holds enormous relevance today.


Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-60344-434-7

Page Count: 616

Publisher: Texas A&M Univ.

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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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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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...


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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