A gripping story of overcoming adversity.

Memories from after the War

THE BLOOD OF THE PRISONERS

Pappert (Memories from After the War: A Stolen Youth, 2016), a German soldier during World War II, suffers but perseveres as an inmate in a Russian prison camp in this memoir.

Even though the war had ended by 1945, Pappert, a lieutenant in the German army, was still in great danger as he tried to navigate his men through hostile Czech territory and find American troops to whom they could surrender. However, the Russians, who were well-known for their brutality toward prisoners of war, eventually captured them but promised that they would transport the Germans by train into American custody. Pappert knew this was unlikely and had no choice but to consider the risky prospect of escape. However, he couldn’t find anyone inside or outside the camp to collaborate with him, so he resigned himself to his fate—an exhausting march to an overcrowded train permeated by the stench of excrement and death. Eventually, he and his men were deposited at a Russian POW camp and subjected to grueling work in mines; he sustained himself with meager rations of soup and bread, which his captors sometimes withheld as punishment. Despite being only 20 years old, Pappert was an officer, and he became both a leader and an inspiration to his men. He writes that he found both strength and solace in his unwavering Catholic faith and often tutored his fellow prisoners in prayer. Still, he admits that such bleak conditions can eventually undermine any man’s morale: “Deprived of our meager evening meal, living for weeks in this camp of terror made us into human beings that no longer really existed.” Overall, this is an affecting tale, written in a spare prose style that avoids gratuitous sentimentality. Although it’s a sequel to Pappert’s previous book, it offers a self-contained story that can be read on its own. The author’s perspective—that of a German soldier who was never committed to Nazism, but believed in a “new Germany, the Germany of Goethe, Lessing and Kant”—is a rare one, and one may wish that he’d elaborated on this particular point. However, it’s a minor quibble in an extraordinary historical record.

A gripping story of overcoming adversity.

Pub Date: May 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5330-9134-5

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2016

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 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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more