The author’s writing is rough—the apt word, the eloquent phrase and a consistent tone elude him—but his perceptions will...

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CONSIDERING DORIS DAY

This critique of Day’s career shows that the major American icon was also a major American talent.

Did Doris Day, Miss Goody Two-Shoes, the constant virgin, really carve out “one of the truly great show business careers in show business history?” Skeptics, especially those who are baby boomers, will do well to consider the forthright, knowledgeable and convincing case for Day’s acting and singing that Santopietro (The Importance of Being Barbara, June 2006) makes here. Day, he reminds readers, reigns as the biggest box-office star in Hollywood history. She appeared in 39 films and released over 600 recordings. Yet her acting, the author concedes, ranged from “brilliant to awful.” He blames Warner Bros. for putting her in a series of second-rate musicals to sate audiences who, during the ’40s and ’50s, adored her as the image of can-do America. And he cites Day’s husband-manager, Marty Melcher, as also having a negative impact on her career. Yet in all the uneven work, Santopietro observes Day’s talent shining through. He admires her sharp, brightly judged performances, playing witty, forthright and, yes, sexually sophisticated women in Love Me or Leave Me, The Pajama Game and The Man Who Knew Too Much. But by the late ’60s, he concludes, younger audiences misperceived her image as chaste, compliant and saccharine, too nice for the rebellious world they made out in the streets. The star survives, the author feels, her dulcet, intimate, heartfelt singing captured in a series of LPs she recorded in the late-’50s and ’60s that put her on the shelf with Ella Fitzgerald and Peggy Lee as unforgettable interpreters of American popular song.

The author’s writing is rough—the apt word, the eloquent phrase and a consistent tone elude him—but his perceptions will send readers to Day’s CDs and DVDs for an overdue re-take.

Pub Date: April 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-312-36263-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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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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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