A brief, genuine, heartfelt memoir of an awe-inspiring life.

EMPTY HANDS, A MEMOIR

ONE WOMAN'S JOURNEY TO SAVE CHILDREN ORPHANED BY AIDS IN SOUTH AFRICA

A South African nurse’s memoir of how she escaped grinding poverty to become a beloved advocate for and caretaker of homeless children.

Ntleko grew up the youngest of 12 children in Harding, a tiny village in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. When her mother died, relatives took in her youngest siblings while her older sisters married or found work. At age 6, she found herself alone to care for herself and her alcoholic father. Working as a laundress and, later, a field hand, and with no time to make friends her age, the author's main source of moral support came from an English missionary worker, who taught Ntleko the lesson that would become her life mantra: “if you want to be of help and service to others…get an education.” At 14, she began school, against the wishes of her tradition-bound father. Getting only a few hours of sleep each night, she worked tirelessly to make her dreams come true. She even ran away from home to earn the money her father could not give her to continue her studies. Ntleko was 28 when she graduated from high school and began her training as a nurse. Yet it was not until she adopted the first of many children a few years later that she realized her true calling was to help homeless youngsters. Ntleko tackled the challenges of single parenthood in the 1960s; more than a decade later, she found herself tackling the even greater challenge of the AIDS crisis. She eventually founded two organizations, Clouds of Hope and Kulungile, dedicated to providing shelter for children from AIDS-affected families. Ntleko’s story, which she tells in simple language, is inspiring and moving. She neither dwells on nor dramatizes the hardships she has faced, preferring instead to focus on “fill[ing] her hands with love and then spend[ing] all that love until [her] hands are empty again.”

A brief, genuine, heartfelt memoir of an awe-inspiring life.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1583949320

Page Count: 176

Publisher: North Atlantic

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

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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 48 LAWS OF POWER

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...

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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