An inspired biographical and autobiographical journey.

MAKING DARKNESS LIGHT

A LIFE OF JOHN MILTON

A prismatic portrait of the canonical poet.

Oxford literature professor Moshenska takes a fresh perspective on John Milton (1608-1674), the art of biography, and the experience of reading to create a lyrical, meditative narrative about a poet who has seemed to generations of biographers and readers to be “perennially contemporary.” It’s not possible, Moshenska writes, “to separate the place of Milton’s writings in his lifetime from the questionings and imaginings that they can provoke in ours.” The author has been haunted by Milton, entangled with him as a reader and teacher, and his captivating, perceptive study reveals a deeply felt connection. Dividing the biography into three parts, the author considers Milton’s birth and early life, marked by his growing up in “a house full of music” that, Moshenska believes, made him particularly sensitive to rhythm; his experiences in his late 20s and early 30s, including a “formative and fraught” trip to Italy and meeting with the aged Galileo; and the latter half of his life, when he married, became a father, and emerged as a controversial public figure. At this point, “he presented himself as a learned, urbane, and respectable poet” whose writings on divorce “could make women leave their husbands” and whose political views “threatened the bonds between monarchs and subjects.” Moshenska follows Milton’s footsteps from his birthplace on Bread Street in London to his travels through Italy; visits Milton’s several homes; offers meticulously close, sensitive readings of poems and essays; and reveals “granular details” of turbulent 17th-century English political and religious life. Throughout, the author shares his own intimate responses to Milton’s sometimes “alien and challenging” views. Milton, he writes, “was able to be absolutely himself while remaining in some sense foreign to himself, and this strange kind of self-relation I have found rich and useful in making sense of myself.” With no aspirations to produce a definitive biography, Moshenska has crafted, instead, an incisive portrayal.

An inspired biographical and autobiographical journey.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5416-2068-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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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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For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

THE DEFENSE LAWYER

THE BARRY SLOTNICK STORY

The Patterson publishing machine clanks its way into the nonfiction aisles in this lumbering courtroom drama.

Barry Slotnick made a considerable fortune and reputation as a defense attorney who had a long list of controversial clients, including mob boss John Gotti and Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. An “urbane lawyer known for his twenty-five-hundred-dollar Fioravanti suits, he was not unacquainted with violence,” write Patterson and Wallace. One of his early cases, indeed, involved a group of Jewish Defense League members who allegedly blew up a Broadway producer’s office, killing a woman who worked there. Slotnick’s defense was a standard confuse-the-jury ploy, but it worked. He put similar tactics to work in his defense of Bernhard Goetz, the “subway shooter” whose trial made international news. The authors open after that trial had concluded in yet another Slotnick win, and with a sensational incident: He was attacked by a masked man who beat him with a baseball bat. The evidence is sketchy, but it seems to place the attack in the hands of organized crime—perhaps even Gotti himself. No matter: Slotnick, “who saw himself as the foe of the all-powerful government” and “liberty’s last champion,” was soon back to representing clients including Radovan Karadžić, the murderous Bosnian Serb who was eventually imprisoned for having committed genocide; Dewi Sukarno, the widow of Indonesia’s similarly bloodstained president, “arrested for slashing the face of a fellow socialite with a broken champagne glass at a party in Aspen”; and Melania Trump, who had chosen Slotnick “to handle her prenup.” In the hands of a John Grisham, the story might have come to life, but while Patterson does a serviceable if cliché-ridden job of recounting Slotnick’s career, he fails to give readers much reason to admire the man.

For Patterson fans who can’t get enough.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49437-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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