Powerful intellectual arguments against a repressive regime interwoven with pleasant familial reflections.

BETWEEN TWO MILLSTONES, BOOK 2

EXILE IN AMERICA, 1978-1994

The second part of Solzhenitsyn's memoir of his time in the West, before he returned to Russia in 1994.

The author delineates his idyllic time in rural Vermont, where he had the freedom to work, spend time with his family, and wage a war of ideas against the Soviet Union and other detractors from afar. At his quiet retreat with Natalia, his wife and intellectual partner, and three sons, the Nobel laureate found what scholar Daniel J. Mahoney describes as “a happiness in free and uninterrupted work—conditions he could only dream of during the years of repression and harassment in the Soviet Union chronicled in The Oak and the Calf, perhaps the greatest of his literary memoirs.” While Book 1 was devoted mostly to “speeches and interventions,” these pieces demonstrate Solzhenitsyn’s deep research and engagement in his life's work, as he struggled to navigate the "millstones" of criticism against his historical assessments of the Russian Revolution. One of his translators even criticized him for anti-Semitism and for “romanticizing prerevolutionary days and urging a return to the orthodox beliefs and chauvinistic traditions of the past,” all of which the author addresses in his sage, deliberative way. Solzhenitsyn's experiences in the gulags led to the further development of his philosophical Christian beliefs, and he never shied away from his condemnations of Bolshevism, Communism, and the Soviet system as destructive to the "historical Russia." As he writes, “during my twenty years of exile the Communist government has never tired of sullying my name either—indefatigably, in every way, and at every opportunity.” Whether he is chronicling his assistance to others caught up in the oppressive Soviet society, engaging in an ongoing dialogue with fellow dissident Andrei Sakharov, or responding to the "blowing hot and cold" developments from the Soviet Union, the author leaves a riveting record of his work in the West,

Powerful intellectual arguments against a repressive regime interwoven with pleasant familial reflections.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-268-10900-4

Page Count: 680

Publisher: Univ. of Notre Dame

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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