A beautifully rendered narrative and characterization portrays the soul of a country few Westerners truly understand.

THE MAYOR OF MOGADISHU

A STORY OF CHAOS AND REDEMPTION IN THE RUINS OF SOMALIA

A fluid, sympathetic journalistic foray into the tumultuous history of Somalia as lived by an intriguing impresario and activist.

Riven over the decades by clan divisions, famine, military coups, dictatorship, and terror by the jihadi group Al-Shabaab, Somalia has seen much of its population displaced and traumatized and only now returning to some peace and stability. In his engaging biography of one unlikely local hero, Mohamud “Tarzan” Nur, Johannesburg-based journalist Harding follows the fortunes of one family of exiles who have returned to the war-scarred capital of Mogadishu to stick it out and reclaim their city from a horrible legacy of civil war. With elegant descriptions, Harding brings this East African coastal country to vivid life, depicting a sun-drenched “pearl of the Indian Ocean” made up of tall, slender nomads whom he found “impossibly, jaw-droppingly resilient” in the face of decades of hardship and violence. The author hones in on Nur, who was born to a poor mother, fatherless, raised in an orphanage, found some outlet as a youth in basketball, and was educated largely by his wits. His outspokenness and the Somalian war with Ethiopia over the neighboring Ogaden region prompted him first to seek employment in Saudi Arabia. His bride, Shamis, followed for love, and the couple had six children, whom Shamis mostly raised by herself after seeking asylum in London without her husband. The family eventually returned to their homeland in 2010 when the Al-Shabaab terrorist group finally left the city. Courageously—or foolishly, as Harding suggests—Nur accepted the dangerous job of mayor and proceeded to try to infuse the destroyed city with his jaunty brand of optimism. While corruption still prevails, Harding reveals enormous goodwill in the beleaguered people who have returned to rebuild their beloved country.

A beautifully rendered narrative and characterization portrays the soul of a country few Westerners truly understand.

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-07234-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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