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Search tags: Memoirs-and-Biographies
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review 2019-01-14 22:16
ELIZABETH WARREN: THE PEOPLE'S ADVOCATE & CHAMPION
Elizabeth Warren: Her Fight. Her Work. Her Life. - Antonia Felix

This is a biography of one of the most remarkable political leaders in the United States to emerge in the past decade.

 

Elizabeth Warren, born into a working class family in Oklahoma, is the embodiment of what has come to be known as the American Dream. By dint of sheer hard work and scholarship, she earned a university degree and a law degree, all while raising a family. She went on to teach law at Rutgers University, the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1995 was offered a position to teach law at Harvard, where she went on to become a tenured professor.

I first became aware of Elizabeth Warren in 2011 when her work in the establishment of what became the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was highlighted by President Obama's naming of Richard Cordray to head that bureau. I was impressed with her knowledge of consumer and economic issues and when she decided to challenge in 2012 the Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) for the Senate seat previously held by Ted Kennedy and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, my interest in her began to grow. 

Antonia Felix has done a wonderful job through this biography in making real the manner of person Elizabeth Warren is. Unlike a significant number of politicians on Capitol Hill today who came into elective office (many of them from privileged backgrounds) to derive some benefits for themselves by currying favor with the corporate lobbies that have an inordinate and excessive influence in the shaping of legislation relating to policies and practices in the marketplace, Elizabeth Warren won election in 2012 to the Senate as an outsider willing to work on the inside for the public interest. She has proven to be the real deal. She's got grit, spunk, compassion, and saavy to get things done. And now that she has declared herself a candidate from the Democratic Party for President of the United States in 2020, I am hopeful that Elizabeth Warren will prevail against her detractors and critics, while inspiring millions across the nation to support her campaign and make it successful.

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review 2019-01-13 22:36
'WHO I AM' According to Charlotte Rampling
Who I Am - Charlotte Rampling,Christophe Bataille

Charlotte Rampling is an actress who has intrigued me since the movie "Orca" - in which she starred with Richard Harris - came out in 1977. Her eyes are both mesmeric and feline. In the intervening years, I've seen a few of her movies and have learned a bit about her life. 

So, when I learned about this terse memoir from a radio interview I heard Charlotte Rampling give about it, I decided to buy it. It is a book full of reminisces and asides, as well as varied photos of Charlotte Rampling, her family, and some of the places in England and France that figured prominently for the Ramplings. 

"WHO I AM" is a book that can be easily read and enjoyed in a few hours.

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review 2019-01-05 01:16
TRUTH CAN BE STRANGER THAN FICTION
The Duchess of Windsor: The Secret Life - Charles Higham

"THE DUCHESS OF WINDSOR: The Secret Life" reads as both a biography of Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom Edward VIII abdicated the throne in December 1936, as well as a fully fleshed-out story of the life she and Edward (aka the Duke of Windsor) had together from their marriage in France in June 1937 til the Duke's death in May 1972. 

This book is also replete with revelatory information about both the Duke and Duchess of Windsor that makes plain their fascist leanings in the 1930s, their admiration of Adolf Hitler, and various other indiscretions. I won't say more because it would be better for anyone with an interest in the lives of both Edward and Wallis Simpson to read this book and arrive at his/her own conclusions about them. What's more: the book is well-researched and footnoted and generally well-written.

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review 2018-11-28 19:00
SHE LANDED BY MOONLIGHT
She Landed by Moonlight: The Story of Secret Agent Pearl Witherington: the Real 'Charlotte Gray' - Carole Seymour-Jones

"SHE LANDED BY MOONLIGHT" is a fantastic story of a most remarkable woman, Pearl Witherington, an Englishwoman born in Paris of English parents, who carried a deep love and devotion for her adopted country France as great as her love for Britain.   

 

During the Second World War, Witherington managed to spirit herself, her mother, and two of her sisters out of France to Britain following France's capitulation to Nazi Germany in June 1940.   Three years later, Witherington joined the Special Operations Executive (SOE), trained as an agent and was parachuted into German-occupied France in September 1943.    The book goes on to describe Witherington's achievements in the field over the following year against heavy odds.    Indeed, at one point, the Germans had learned of her identity after the leader of the spy network of which she was a part had been captured by the Gestapo in May 1944.    As a result, a ƒ1,000,000 bounty was put on Witherington's head.    Undeterred, Witherington took on a new code name ('Pauline') and led the SOE Wrestler network in operations against German forces in the Valencay–Issoudun–Châteauroux triangle of central France.     The 4,000 marquisards she organized, armed, and trained would play a significant role in tying down thousands of German soldiers after the Allies had landed in Normandy in June 1944.       

 

This is a story that seems too incredible to be true.  But it was all too real.    Witherington survived the war, married the man she had long loved (who had also fought with her as a member of the Resistance in 1944), and went on to live a long life.     

 

"SHE LANDED BY MOONLIGHT" also provides an interesting overview of SOE, how it came to be in July 1940, the opposition it faced from Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (i.e., MI-6), its organizational structure, and the contributions made by SOE's F Section (of which Pearl Witherington was a part) in France towards defeating Nazi Germany.    I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about a true 'Warrior Queen.'

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review 2018-11-18 13:27
AN ABSOLUTE MUST READ FOR ANYONE WHO LOVES LARGER-THAN-LIFE TRUE STORIES
Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster - Stephen L. Carter

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing at a local bookstore the author Stephen L. Carter speak about his paternal grandmother Eunice Huston Carter (1899-1970). Sometime later, after the Q&A session, I had the opportunity to speak with Professor Carter as he autographed my copy of this book.

"INVISIBLE: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America's Most Powerful Mobster" puts the reader into an era in U.S. history barely half a century behind us, when African Americans were restricted by law and what was accepted custom from realizing their full potential in what was an overtly racist America (Jim Crow segregation). Notwithstanding all that, what I found to be deeply inspirational from reading this book is learning about the life of this most remarkable woman - as well as the lives of her parents (who were both fully engaged social activists; Eunice's father with the YMCA (its 'colored' section) for whom he worked tirelessly both in the U.S. and abroad til his death in 1916 and her mother Addie was a graduate of Boston Latin School, and a college graduate who later served as a teacher and worked with a variety of organizations promoting racial and gender equality til her death in 1943) and younger brother, from whom she became estranged. 

This is a book that would be instructive (as well as inspirational) to any reader who wants to learn about the value of living -- in spite of the obstacles and challenges arrayed against someone because of his/her color and/or gender -- a purposeful, committed life wholly dedicated to advancing socio-economic justice, as well as racial and gender equality.

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