An uninspired autobiography from animal psychologist/behaviorist/communicator Eckstein (Understanding Your Pet, 1986, etc.), whose destiny was sealed by a rat. As a tyke in suburban Long Island, N.Y., Eckstein befriended a rat; his folks, marvel of marvels, allowed him to keep it. Eckstein had found his calling: “I believe I was put here to help bridge the gap between people and animals.” He enjoyed, he believes, a telepathy allowing him to “talk” with animals, to read their “parapsychology and body language.” From there, it wasn’t long before he and his new wife ran their first advertisement in a local paper——We’ll Teach Your Dog Yiddish for $15”—and started to put into practice their particular brand of animal training, one that encourages getting down on all fours and communing with the pet, ladling on the hugs and kisses, treating the creatures with respect and dignity and the love accorded any family member. But technique is not the thrust of this book, which is a pity. Rather, Eckstein concentrates on his rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, his numerous guest appearances on David Letterman, Saturday Night Live, and the Mickey Mouse Club, his radio show and personalized brand of pet products. He clearly wants his readers to be impressed by all this, but he affects an aloofness that is blazingly insincere. Amid the mostly underwhelming personal details (although the loss of his first wife is a powerful episode), Eckstein does offer up some anecdotal material—the dog taught to gamble for high stakes, the mongoose that left one of Eckstein’s fingers hanging by a thread, his days as a peace officer with a humane group—that will give readers a taste of what this book might have had to offer. Only dyed-in-the-wool Eckstein fanatics will find any reason to plow through this starstruck memoir. (b&w photos)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-449-91123-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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