A monumental narration of the travails of Russian Communism, served up by the widow of one of its first founders—and victims. Larina grew up in a family of prominent socialist intellectuals: Her father, a well-known economist and a close friend of Lenin's, served as a mentor to an entire generation of young revolutionaries. One of these, Nikolai Bukharin, became Larina's husband and part of the inner circle of the Bolshevik leadership. After the 1917 revolution, Bukharin worked as an adviser to Lenin during the turmoil of the civil war and its aftermath, and was ultimately responsible for many of the ideas embodied in Lenin's New Economic Policy of the early 1920's. Stalin's rise to power, however, carried an enduring chill into Russia's political atmosphere and doomed the careers and lives of anyone whose prominence or charisma seemed to threaten the elaborate ``cult of personality'' that maintained the dictator's authority. Bukharin was one of the earliest victims, denounced as a traitor and ``convicted'' of absurd and incredible crimes at one of the most elaborate show trials of the era. After his execution in 1938, Larina's life became an uninterrupted chronicle of harassment and exile: as a chesir (the relative of a counter- revolutionary), she was separated from her son and interned in one gulag after another for the next 30 years. Larina's memoir, though, is measured, vivid, and strikingly free of malice; her tone throughout is one of absolute self-reliance, the sustaining confidence of a thoroughly independent woman who believed all along that the day of her vindication would ultimately arrive. Exceptionally moving and strong: an eloquent statement of human endurance and superhuman faith. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: March 15, 1993

ISBN: 0-393-03025-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1993

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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 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...


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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