Jerusalem Report contributor Halevy's engrossing account of his tenure among the late Rabbi Meir Kahane's radical right-wing demimonde and his eventual reemergence into respectability. On the surface, this is similar to many experiences of growing up in the 1960s: A young idealist seeks out ever more extreme ways to attract attention to his causes. But Halevy was no Weatherman or Black Panther. He was a member of the Jewish Defense League, subversive defenders of the Jewish people against anti-Semitism. Halevy's story highlights an unusual convergence of historical moments: post-Holocaust America meets the counterculture. He describes with fascinating insight his childhood in Brooklyn's Borough Park, an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, as the son of a Holocaust survivor who had lived in a hole in the woods as the rest of his town was sent to the death camps. Halevy's father trained his son to be a survivor as well- -by not conforming, not becoming comfortable among the goyim (non-Jews), by supporting Israel. The young Halevy internalized these lessons. He joined a militant Zionist youth group while still in grade school and began working to free Soviet Jewry when he was 12. He was soon drawn to Kahane's JDL, which was making headlines with its violent guerrilla tactics. A somewhat reluctant follower of the charismatic but insane Kahane, Halevy never participated in terrorist acts; his moment of glory was masterminding a plan to get himself and other Americans arrested in Russia, to bring media attention to the plight of Soviet Jews. When the cause was adopted by the Jewish establishment, Halevy finally liberated himself from both the JDL and his Manichean worldview, getting beyond the Holocaust and on with his life. A profound look at the child of a Holocaust survivor burdened with the knowledge that his very existence is a miracle and the need to prove that the miracle wasn't squandered on him.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 1995

ISBN: 0-316-49860-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1995

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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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