An exhaustive look at the short life of the Who’s legendary drummer. Fletcher follows Keith Moon from his childhood in the London suburb of Wembley through his apprenticeship in the Beachcombers, his 15-year tenure in the Who, and his death by overdose at the age of 32. The writer’s principal task seems to be to dispense with the apocryphal stories that surrounded Moon’s wild life. We learn, for instance, that Moon never drove a Rolls-Royce into a swimming pool (actually, while drunk, he accidentally backed the Rolls into a small pond on his property). In clarifying the record, however, Fletcher paints a vividly ugly picture of Moon as wife-beater, drunk driver, and all-out pathetic drunkard. Unfortunately, Fletcher is first and foremost a fan, and his desire not to paint too dreadful a picture of Moon leads to pleading many, many excuses for his infantile behavior, including a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder, when it seems quite clear that drugs and particularly alcohol lay at the bottom of most of Moon’s problems. Still, the musical aspects of the biography are well done; here, in tying Moon’s own story closely to the Who’s, Fletcher is at his strongest. The author conducted a broad range of interviews with industry friends and associates of Moon’s, not the least of them Who bassist John Entwistle. And Fletcher’s presentation of the Who as one of the few bands able to stand the test of time with their integrity intact is notably persuasive. When Fletcher follows Moon to his exile in California during the mid-1970s, he loses the anchor of the Who’s career, and the work suffers. Episodes regarding Moon’s abortive career as a comic actor only partially redeem these portions of it. Few questions will now remain about Moon’s life—in fact, you may know more than you wanted to. (24 pages photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 1999

ISBN: 0-380-97337-5

Page Count: 632

Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

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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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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...


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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