A collection that will be of most interest to the author’s family members, but will also serve as a primary source for...

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HAPPY TRAVEL DIARIES

1925-1933

Five diaries relate a family’s travel experiences in the United States and Europe by plane, train, and automobile.

During the prosperous 1920s and into the early years of the Great Depression, the Bornets family, Quakers from Philadelphia, made several trips at home and abroad. Five travel diaries by Florence Davis Bornet (née Scull); her husband, Vaughn Taylor Bornet; and their daughter, Josephine Scull Bornet, are the basis for this book, edited by the elder Bornets’ son, who was born in 1917. In the first diary, Florence describes traveling by train in 1925, when she was 41. From Philadelphia, the train traveled to Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle, with stopovers at the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone Park. Next is Vaughn Taylor’s diary of a business trip and football outing that took him from Philadelphia to Ozona, Texas, and Berkeley, California, by train in 1927. Josephine’s diary describes traveling with her mother by ocean liner the following year for a grand tour of Europe, visiting the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Italy. In 1930, Vaughn Taylor also visited Europe by boat, and he took his first airplane flight. The Bornets’ fortunes declined with the Depression, and the fifth diary is more like a map with notes, logging the elder Bornets’ drive through the southeast United States; the family eventually resettled in Florida. Author Bornet (The Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, 1984, etc.) is clearly proud of his family and their adventures, and his own relatives will most appreciate this book, which is amply illustrated with photos. As travel writing, though, these diaries have less to offer. The family members usually offer generic praise of the sights they see, calling them “beautiful,” “wonderful,” “gorgeous,” “charming,” “quaint,” and—too evidently—“beyond description.” Vaughn Taylor’s travels in Europe are somewhat livelier, though, and his careful documentation of costs in the final section gives an ephemeral but illuminating window into the Depression.  

A collection that will be of most interest to the author’s family members, but will also serve as a primary source for travel historians.

Pub Date: Oct. 14, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9908075-8-2

Page Count: 170

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2017

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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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