From Liberty to Magnolia, In search of the American Dream ISBN: 9781641147521, Christian Faith Publishing, a Memoir by Janice S. Ellis, PhD.
Perhaps the best way to describe this book is to provide material from the Forward followed by a few of the details. This story “is a true, powerful, and compelling story about the enduring scourge of racism and sexism in America. It is a personal account of how that bane of evil plays out in the lives of blacks and women despite the great promise of the American Dream being available to and achievable by everyone. It shows how, more often than not, access to the playing field and the rules of the game are not fairly applied among men and women, blacks and whites, even when they come prepared with equal or better qualifications and value sets to play the game.” It covers the period from when she was born on a small farm in Mississippi situated between two small towns just miles from the Louisiana border up to the present. The birthplace is of importance because it was in the days when racism still was at its worst and Mississippi which was “the poorest and most racist state in the Union and Louisiana is second.” There then follows Part 1 that is a rather extensive recounting of her early childhood with many descriptions of intercourse with her mother, father, family, teachers and acquaintances. Then a recounting of her first marriage which degenerated into an abusive relationship which she endured because of the beliefs instilled in her from her earliest days until a divorce resulted largely because of the husband’s insistence. Then descriptions of her dogged tenacity of purpose to continue attempting to advance in business, politics and entrepreneurial endeavors simultaneously earning a living for herself and her children and still managing to advance to attain her long desired PhD. She describes in detail constant encounters with “conflicting cultural principles and practices, dual morality and mores” as she attempts to advance in her multiple endeavors.
Discussion/Conclusion: This author has written one of the most detailed memoirs this reviewer ever has read and no doubt, has experienced a well-deserved catharsis. Further, she has described many instances and activities that perhaps were not particularly well thought out. However, many of her offerings would be well worth a reader’s time to give second thoughts. So, if memoir and/or the subjects of racism, sexism and or cultural differences are within your sphere of interest, you will find much to ponder in this book.
5* For readers interested in memoirs, racism, sexism, cultural elements.
A Cold July in Cuba ISBN: 9781599328560, Advantage Group, a biography/memoir copyright and written by Ray F. Ledon, M.D.
The author, a board certified physician in internal medicine and gastroenterology after serving as chief resident at UMDNJ is now a prominent member of that state’s medical community. His book, sub-titled “Recollections of My Father, the Revolutionary”, provides details of the trials and tribulations of his father, a physician renown for establishing the first Department of Anesthesiology in Cuba as he fought the corrupt administration of Batista, was apprehended, beaten, starved and threatened with death, saved miraculously to became Castro’s Minister of Health establishing services for the people throughout Cuba. Attempting to overlook the new regime’s anti-freedom activities that gradually but inexorably were ruining the lives of the very people they purportedly had attempted to save, he again became politically involved, participated in the poorly planned and executed Bay of Pigs invasion, and eventually escaped to Spain and then Canada. These are the memories of the young son who was old enough to establish a lasting bond with his father as he too was forced later to escape with his mother and younger sister and of the hard times he and they suffered devoid of a father until finally arriving at their present situations in life.
Discussion: This recounting of details of one family’s activities during the Cuban ‘revolutions’ must be accepted for what it is. Specifically, a number of readers will remember the endless accounts published at the time and subsequent books on the Cuban revolts. They were a prominent part of any American’s life for several years creating intense interest. Thus, if a reader is looking for anything ‘new’, it is not to be found here. In fact, it would be unnatural for a young child, to understand the extent of corruption and associated factors present in his world. The author makes it quite clear that he has no intent other than to describe his recollections and how he and his family were affected by these catastrophic changes and how they came about in large part because of his father’s participation as a Cuban revolutionary. Also evident is the sub-consciously haunting but unallowable memory of a young boy with a loving attachment to a father who sacrificed a beautiful family relationship because of an overpowering love of his country followed by bad choices. Such repressive reaction is understandable because of his similar love of country and his early established bond with the father that had no subsequent replacement. Yet, according to the substance of this book, parts of the father’s subsequent activity seemingly still are somewhat difficult to keep from occasionally ‘peeking out of’ that suppressive capsule.
Summary: If you are a reader who enjoys memoirs, and especially those with interesting psychological undertones, this book is for you.
5* For memoir genre devotees an interesting psychological aspect.