An informative and moving recollection, despite some overly precious prose.

RESURRECTION LILY

A woman recounts a decision to pre-empt cancer by surgical means.

In 2008, debut author Shainman’s older sister, Jan (whom she affectionately calls “Sista”), was diagnosed with ovarian and uterine cancer. After several rounds of chemotherapy, Sista’s cancers went into remission, but at a later conference on ovarian cancer, she learned she was especially vulnerable to a recurrence. She underwent genetic testing that revealed that she was “BRCA1 positive,” meaning she had a genetic mutation that significantly increased the chances of contracting breast or ovarian cancer. Shainman quickly decided to get tested, as well, and discovered that she also carried the mutation. This presented her with an achingly difficult choice: Should she strategically choose to undergo prophylactic surgical procedures (bilateral mastectomy, breast reconstruction, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, and hysterectomy), or take her chances, and avoid elective, risky operations? The author’s remembrance is unconventionally eclectic; she includes correspondence with friends and family, journal entries and text exchanges, and a lengthy discussion of her view that she’s gifted with a type of emotional “telepathy.” She chronicles not only her own struggle and her sister’s plight, but also her husband’s work colleague’s cancer fight. Also, as her family’s historian, she determines that her paternal grandmother, Lillian, certainly died from breast cancer. Shainman’s memoir is poignantly inspirational throughout; she later writes that she eventually became an advocate for BRCA awareness, and even executive-produced a movie about it in 2015 called Pink & Blue. In addition, she provides sensible information about medical due-diligence, especially involving genetic testing. However, her prose can be cutesy at times, as when she sizes up her anchorman husband’s co-worker: “So, this dazzling woman is whom my husband has been hanging out with on the news set in the middle of the night and early morning? Argh!

An informative and moving recollection, despite some overly precious prose.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4808-6708-6

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

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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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