DEATH OF A PRESIDENT

Certainly no book has ever been published under quite these circumstances. The issues it involves (has history been served? was privacy invaded? were contractual obligations broken?) have already been widely debated. The disputed passages have in part been globally disseminated. And the contents of the book are well known to begin with. Or are they? How many people know that on November 21st Senator Humphrey gave a speech on mental health in Washington in which he said that the act of an unstable person could strike down a great leader? Or that the next morning in Fort Worth President Kennedy quipped that the night before would have been a hell of a night to kill a president? This aggregate of detail, some of it significant, some of it irrelevant (i.e., Eunice Shriver always wears black when pregnant because it is slimming) both intensifies and extends the immediate experience. Mr. Manchester's tremendous research collects and collates who did, said, thought, felt what and where during the November 20th to November 25th timespan. This has the inveterate appeal of private revelations about public people. Then too there's that Establishment word charisma which Kennedy apotheosized. Manchester, one of his acolytes, subdued none of that quality in his over-adulatory Portrait of a President (1962). Here he transfers it to Jacqueline Kennedy, a spotless profile in courage. By comparison, by indirection and sometimes by innuendo the Johnsons come off badly. Dallas and Governor Connally come off worse. Mr. Manchester obviously found the transition from Kennedy to Johnson as trying as did many others of the faithful. The controversial fanfaronade over this book will continue. Historians will question the limber speculations (Oswald was activated by the climate of violence in Dallas, or was it Marina's rejection at 9 P.M. the night before?). But no one should underestimate its impact, however much you may resent it, the unbearable scenes (driver Greer crying, on Mrs. Kennedy's shoulder in Parkland Hospital) right down through the last motorcade to Arlington. Somehow, with no more than reportorial skills at his command, Mr. Manchester matches the dislocation and identification which almost everyone experienced during the tragic events of that long weekend. Inescapably.

Pub Date: April 1, 1967

ISBN: 0883659565

Page Count: 736

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1967

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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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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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