Outspoken in her critique of the “Army machine,” Ricketts celebrates the “secret sisterhood” of soldiers’ wives, defiantly...

NO MAN'S WAR

IRREVERENT CONFESSIONS OF AN INFANTRY WIFE

An Army wife reflects on marriage, war and guilt.

On leave as commander during an 18-month deployment in Iraq, Ricketts’ husband made a startling confession: He was responsible for the torching of a building that resulted in the deaths of women and young children. Although cleared of wrongdoing, he was beset by anguish. As the commander’s wife, charged with keeping up morale among soldiers’ families, Ricketts felt complicit. “Writing this book,” she writes, “is my version of repentance, my version of forcing myself to look at a pile of corpses I helped create….I am both a perpetrator and victim of war, in my own tiny way.” Besides facing her complicity, she shares her sadness at the effect of Army life on her marriage, which deteriorated as her husband, an ambitious career officer, went on repeated deployments, ever longer and more dangerous. Each time he returned, he seemed to be a stranger to her and their children, each time more addicted “to being ‘in the fight’ and the adrenaline rush of battle.” Ricketts vents anger, as well, about much of Army life: its rigid protocol and hierarchy; the “fundraisers and luncheons and newsletters and team-building workshops” that she comes to find meaningless; the “KoolAid”—as she calls euphemisms and propaganda—that the Army perpetuates in its endless PowerPoint “snooze-fests.” Describing herself as “judgmental as hell,” “mischievous” and “borderline devious,” the author zealously scorns the “Perfumed Turd posturing” of pretentious, self-important wives of senior officers. War, she came to realize, is not waged by combat soldiers alone but by women whose marriages and families are disrupted, who raise children as virtual single parents, and who hide overwhelming fears and anxiety as they live with “another new normal” that comes with every new mission.

Outspoken in her critique of the “Army machine,” Ricketts celebrates the “secret sisterhood” of soldiers’ wives, defiantly and desperately battling for survival. A blunt, bold debut memoir.

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61902-326-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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