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A fitting and welcome monument to a surprisingly complex actor in early American history.

New York Observer columnist and editor Golway (For the Cause of Liberty, 2000, etc.) rescues a Revolutionary War hero from oblivion, and deservedly so.

Nathanael Greene was a Rhode Islander who mysteriously earned a promotion from private to general of militia almost overnight, and who otherwise embodied a bundle of contradictions: he was a nominal pacifist who excelled at warfare, a pious man who was fond of a visit to the alehouse, “a walking incongruity: a self-taught child of the Enlightenment, dressed in the unadorned black garb of a Quaker.” When textbooks mention him at all, they tend to cast Greene in a saintly light, whereas Golway accords him all the usual human failings. Among other things, the man wasn’t above politics; he grumbled about George Washington’s failings as a commander and lobbied hard for position, especially against rival general Horatio Gates, though he skillfully depicted himself as being the unwilling recipient of rank and honor. And he was also, Golway hints, not above earning a dollar here and there by helping mercantile relatives gain access to lucrative army contracts. Greene also had positive qualities, however, that more than matched his shortcomings, one being sheer bravery; he uncomplainingly turned up in the thick of important battles, such as the Continental victory at Trenton and defeat at Germantown, and at the end of the war his mere appearance on the battlefield, apparently, was enough to send his British foes into flight. Greene had a simple view of the war: “We fight, get beat, rise and fight again.” That persistence wore down royal forces in the South, with the last battles of the Revolutionary War. At places like Cowpens, the Dan River, Guilford Courthouse, and Eutaw Springs, Greene met everything the British threw at him, and if he lost many battles, he at least kept up a fight that would have been all too easy to abandon.

A fitting and welcome monument to a surprisingly complex actor in early American history.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2005

ISBN: 0-8050-7066-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2004

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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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