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Twice-told tales of JFK's alleged womanizing and his domination by lecherous, ruthless father Joseph Kennedy. A former admirer of Kennedy, Univ. of Wisconsin history professor Reeves (The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy, 1982; Gentleman Boss, 1975) vents his spleen and disillusionment against the claims of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Theodore Sorensen, and other Camelot chroniclers. In this telling, Joseph Kennedy drilled into Jack and his siblings ``an intense self- centeredness, aggressiveness, and a passionate desire to win at any cost'' that left Jack without the high moral character American Presidents requires for greatness. Although crediting JFK with intelligence, wit, charisma, courage, and forthright defense of free-world principles during the Berlin and Cuban Missile crises, Reeves also criticizes the President for macho posturing and disdain for moral principle in his conduct relating to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the assassination plot against Fidel Castro, the steel price-hike, and civil-rights movement, and deepening involvement in Southeast Asia. Above all, he finds, his former hero ``abused his office for personal self-gratification'' through relentless philandering that exposed him to potential blackmail. Yet most of these instances of the seamy reality behind Camelot can be found in previous works by Joan and Clay Blair, Herbert Permet, and Peter Collier and David Horowitz. Absurdly, Reeves also contradicts his own evidence at times (e.g., claiming that JFK was ``not his father's puppet'' after spending the entire book demonstrating how completely the President accepted his father's political viewpoint and financial largesse). For a truly searing discussion of the character issue, see Garry Wills's The Kennedy Imprisonment (1982), not this superficial treatment focused so exclusively on adultery and the inherited sins of founding father Joe.

Pub Date: May 8, 1991

ISBN: 0-02-925965-7

Page Count: 500

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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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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