A truly moving and bravely rendered memoir.

GIRL

MY CHILDHOOD AND THE SECOND WORLD WAR

An impressionistic memoir of a Polish Jewish girl’s survival hiding as a Gentile in Nazi-occupied Poland.

What lifts this beautifully understated narrative above many other admirable efforts are Frankel’s gift for visceral detail and trained eye as a novelist. Smoothly translated from the Hebrew by Silverston, this memoir by the prolific children’s author and illustrator begins with one traumatic moment—one of many—in her early life. Around the age of 7, Frankel, nee Goldman, was thrust back into the care of her parents, who were hiding in a secret room in Lvov next to a sympathetic Polish carpenter and alcoholic, Juzef Juzak. The Lvov Ghetto had been liquidated in June 1943; the lucky few, like Frankel, had been fobbed off on opportunistic Poles like the cunning Hania Seremet, who took the Goldmans’ money and the mother’s gold teeth to smuggle their only daughter out of the ghetto to Seremet’s parents’ farm in Marcinkowice. Meanwhile, Frankel’s parents, who were well-meaning communists, had earned the respect of Juzak and were harbored in safety, as long as the “girl” did not come, too. The memoir moves with mannerist irony through this shattering time, and the author uses repetitive, obsessive detail to enforce the chilling effect—e.g., about the animals at the farm, the mice and the lice in the hideaway with her parents, and the stories she had to hear but did not want to hear, ending always in the depressing refrain: “That’s what my mother told me, and told me, and told me.” There is almost no other way to tell this powerful story, as the family waited for the Red Army to liberate them from the Nazis and then later had to flee Russian anti-Semitism.

A truly moving and bravely rendered memoir.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-253-02228-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Indiana Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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