Generous without being slavish, beautifully capturing Kennedy’s passion and dignity.

THE LAST CAMPAIGN

ROBERT F. KENNEDY AND 82 DAYS THAT INSPIRED AMERICA

Tremendously moving chronicle of Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 run for president.

Addressing the needs of a “wounded nation”—mired in the Vietnam War, complacent about poverty and inequity—Senator Kennedy announced his candidacy on March 16, 1968, offering to lead America back to “those ideals which are the source of national strength and generosity and compassion of deed.” Clarke (Ask Not: The Inauguration of John F. Kennedy and the Speech that Changed America, 2004, etc.) follows on Bobby’s heels as he plunged headlong into his campaign, from Kansas and Indiana to Oregon and California, throwing off his brother’s mantle and becoming at last his own man. He spoke passionately, almost recklessly, inciting crowds to frenzy with his idealistic speeches about the moral shame of Vietnam, the needs of the poor and minorities and the responsibility of each American. Incorporating accounts by a gamut of reporters, politicians, family and “Honorary Kennedys,” as well as extracts from Bobby’s own stunning stump speeches, Clarke compellingly recreates this “huge, joyous adventure.” Seized by grief and guilt over his brother’s assassination and morally opposed to the war and to President Johnson’s reelection yet unable to reconcile himself to Eugene McCarthy’s candidacy, Kennedy (but not all his advisers) decided it was now or never, and his gradual but determined evolution into a fearless, formidable, winning candidate makes stupendous reading. Johnson’s decision not to seek reelection robbed him of an antagonist, but when Martin Luther King Jr. was shot, Kennedy quelled riots with his heartfelt speeches and become King’s “real successor.” Many worried that King and JFK would not be the last; Clarke quotes a heartbreaking comment from one reporter, who dubbed Bobby’s decision to campaign virtually unprotected by security as “slow-motion suicide.” The hope he inspired, though eclipsed by his assassination on June 6, still proves instructive and pertinent, especially in this election year.

Generous without being slavish, beautifully capturing Kennedy’s passion and dignity.

Pub Date: June 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8050-7792-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2008

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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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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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