A readable exposé that feels like an article-length topic overstretched into a book.

CONFESSIONS OF AN IVY LEAGUE FRAT BOY

A MEMOIR

In this nonfiction debut, New Jerseyite and former frat brother Lohse blows the whistle on the distasteful hazing practices he witnessed during his tumultuous time at prestigious Ivy League institution Dartmouth College.

The author comes off like your average middle-class, all-American lad, with good grades and a fair amount of potential in life after leading his high school’s Model United Nations and graduating with honors. Even so, to live the Ivy League dream, he was reduced to getting his Dartmouth-educated grandfather to help him in his quest to be “reconsidered” by the admissions officers. Being insecure and desperate for acceptance, Lohse figured the easiest thing to do would be to join the most notorious fraternity on campus. Little did he know that his stint as a Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledge would nearly ruin his life. The author soon found himself in a socially poisonous environment in which he was forced to guzzle vinegar, Mad Dog 20/20 and even cups of urine. Other mandatory activities in this phony ritualistic ascent to brotherhood included wading in a pool of human excrement, games of blackout-drunk beer pong and even the chance to snort cocaine while listening to Eric Clapton’s song about cocaine. Eventually, his flirtation with the drug got him in trouble with the cops. Lohse’s writing is passable but also peppered with annoying frat slang (he frequently employs the term “boot” as a verb meaning “to vomit”) and awkward metaphors and similes (“Summer was long gone, though—it had faded out like washed out salmon pink shorts”). The author’s story might be more sympathetic had he not eventually decided to haze pledges himself before ratting on his “bros” to Rolling Stone.

A readable exposé that feels like an article-length topic overstretched into a book.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-250-03367-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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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