Entertaining but too short on facts to deliver on its promise.

An attempt to fill a gap in an otherwise thoroughly examined life.

Hectored by his wife, war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, into going to Europe in 1944, Ernest Hemingway flew to London to cover the war for Collier's magazine. He was in his mid-40s, internationally famous for his fiction, and had no enthusiasm for journalism; he intended to write just enough to remain employed while salting away material for future novels. During his 10 months in Europe, Hemingway rode a landing craft to Omaha Beach on D-Day (and then rode it back to the troopship), assembled a private army of partisans in France, and accompanied an infantry regiment when it was cut to pieces in the Hürtgenwald. His physical courage and enthusiasm for combat are beyond question. But while Hemingway's bibulous exploits in London and Paris are well-documented, exactly what he did in the field remains shrouded in mystery, and Mort (Thieves' Road: The Black Hills Betrayal and Custer's Path to Little Bighorn, 2015, etc.) cannot lift the veil. Parties, dinners, and marital strife aside, Hemingway is missing from much of the book, which is padded with elaborate detail on topics ranging from French political factions to tactics for fighting in Norman hedgerows. When Hemingway appears, a gauzy curtain falls. Regarding his ride on the landing craft, "the details…are a little sketchy." The author presents him amongst his guerrillas but describes none of their activities besides their march into Paris to liberate the Ritz Hotel’s cellar, about which "there's something of a mystery." Even in the Hürtgenwald, Hemingway appears briefly in two firefights and otherwise fades into the background of the larger narrative. Mort rejects the claim that Hemingway was just "a tourist in a helmet," but unlike the frontline soldiers he so admired, he could leave the front any time he wanted and often did.

Entertaining but too short on facts to deliver on its promise.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68177-247-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016


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



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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