A perceptive chronicle of hard-won wisdom.

DEAR PRINCESS GRACE, DEAR BETTY

THE MEMOIR OF A ROMANTIC FEMINIST

A candid memoir of love, illness, and friendship and a justification for “romantic feminist love.”

Brill (co-author: Dancing at the River’s Edge: A Patient and Her Doctor Negotiate Life with Chronic Illness, 2009, etc.) reveals her struggle for independence in the face of social expectations and a debilitating autoimmune disease. Growing up in the 1950s, Brill was repeatedly misdiagnosed by unsympathetic, sexist doctors; one suggested that her symptoms of stiffness, swelling, and fevers were psychosomatic. Finally, she was diagnosed with atypical juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, which was revised as systemic lupus; she was 30 before a physician—and co-author of her last memoir—discovered she had the chronic, incurable, atypical Wegener’s granulomatosis. Brill reflects on how her health affected her aspirations and marriages. Years after her first husband divorced her, he confessed that he had left because of her disease. “He had needed to preserve the quality of his life and ensure his future,” he explained. Her second husband, a self-aggrandizing liar whom one neurologist diagnosed as a narcissistic sociopath, resented it when her illness flared up. Two bad choices, though, have not dissuaded Brill from believing in love: not the happily-ever-after story that she had imagined, as a star-struck child, for Grace Kelly but “love in mutually understanding and accepting ways.” Brill’s feminism was honed, in part, through her long friendship with Betty Friedan, whose groundbreaking The Feminine Mystique had hugely influenced Brill’s mother. As “a pioneering cartographer for women,” Friedan was judgmental and bad-tempered, with a voracious craving for praise and recognition. She denigrated Gloria Steinem for garnering the attention that she thought was her due. But she and Brill bonded over chronic illness—Friedan’s was asthma—and shared ideals for women’s lives.

A perceptive chronicle of hard-won wisdom.

Pub Date: April 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-936182-84-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Schaffner Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2016

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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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