A high-action, low-analysis memoir of a commendable life.



Adventures of a peripatetic human-rights activist committed to exposing the horrors of modern-day slavery and freeing its victims.

Cohen—whose past includes an addiction to street drugs and a business/creative partnership with Jane’s Addiction leader Perry Farrell—transformed himself into a dedicated activist in the early 1990s after his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He began studying Hebrew and working on Jubilee, a peace-through-music movement seeking to lower the debt of third-world countries and to free coerced workers. Journalist Buckley profiled Cohen in an award-winning 2007 article that appeared in LA Weekly. Here she aids him in recounting his escapades in Cambodia, Sudan, Ecuador, Myanmar, Israel and Iraq, among other countries. Cohen’s job, which he refers to as “night frighting,” was to pose as a sex-hungry tourist. He would visit a brothel, select a young girl from a lineup, go with her to her room, gain her confidence, tape an interview and take photos to document the visit. Using the information he gained, agencies made arrests, rescued the girls and placed them in protective custody. Cohen took great personal risks, sometimes getting caught in the crossfire of rival gangs, sometimes being forced to hide and flee the country. The graphic details of his nighttime activities contrast sharply with the quiet hotel scenes, where Cohen said prayers for his father and meditated on passages from the Book of Job. During part of his time abroad, the author was also responsible for the care of his terminally ill father back in California, a task that caused him deep distress and the details of which are disturbing. While Cohen tosses in some statistics and reports on the actions being taken by others, this is not an overview of sex trafficking or any other form of forced labor; it is a personal story of one man’s campaign to rescue its victims. An epilogue urges readers to get involved and provides links to various human-rights groups.

A high-action, low-analysis memoir of a commendable life.

Pub Date: June 23, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6117-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2009

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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