An often charming but slight literary artifact, capturing a writer early in his career.


Novelist and true-crime writer Borowitz (Death Play, 2016, etc.) shares an autobiography that he wrote during a precocious adolescence.

The author, who was born in 1930, has written books and practiced law for decades, but this memoir doesn’t portray those years of experience and observation. Instead, it captures a young boy’s view of his own life; Borowitz says that he likely wrote it when he was about 13, possibly for a school assignment, and kept it ever since. After an opening that relates his family’s emigration from Central and Eastern Europe to Chicago, the author’s birthplace, he tells of his infant years and his development into an inquisitive child. As one might expect from a teen’s memoir, the book and its chapters are brief, favoring short observations over more intensive examination of the author or his surroundings. One chapter offers an account of his time as an ambivalent camper, surrounded by much more enthusiastic participants at Wisconsin’s Camp Menominee, while another describes the thrill of his first plane ride. Borowitz’s boyhood coincided with World War II, and he provides a unique, youthful perspective, sharing his confusion, for example, that a 1938 newspaper headline, “Nazi Escape from Justice Seen,” didn’t refer to a jailbreak. His authorial voice is often appealingly wry and self-aware, providing a funny portrait of a cautious, smart, and somewhat hapless child in a world of strong personalities. Borowitz writes charmingly of his first-grade art projects: “I had no respect for the anatomy of the body in my drawings, and my characters often appeared in positions which even contortionists would consider impossible.” The charm gradually lessens, however, during a lengthy closing chapter on the Borowitz family’s Mexico trip, which reads like a string of names and places, much like a student’s report on how he spent his summer. Overall, the book is clearly the work of a clever young writer, and it’s no surprise that Borowitz grew into a successful author. That said, it still essentially reads like a teenager’s school assignment, and therefore its target audience, beyond the author’s friends and family, is unclear.

An often charming but slight literary artifact, capturing a writer early in his career.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 140

Publisher: ATBOSH Media Ltd.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 12, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?