A somewhat lackluster but candid and heartfelt memoir.

A writer and photographer of German descent tells the story of how falling in love with and then marrying a Jewish man changed her life.

Gendler did not expect to meet "the man of her life" three weeks after her father's death, nor did she expect he would be Jewish, just like the man her Bohemia-born great-aunt Resi had wed and then divorced to protect herself and her children from the horrors of Nazism. Yet it soon became clear that Harry, who had grown up in Germany (as had the New Jersey–born author) but carried a French passport, was someone with whom she could share interests along with “a certain sense of not belonging.” The difference in their religious backgrounds, as well as Gendler’s own unfinished business with an ex-boyfriend and Harry’s fear of upsetting a father who would say “[Kaddish], the prayer for the dead” if he discovered the relationship, made them cautious to become closer. All too aware of the obstacles that stood in their way, they hid their relationship for more than two years from everyone except close friends. A trip to Israel and, later, to various Jewish memorials around Germany with Harry led to a deepening of Gendler’s interest in Jewish culture and religion and her eventual decision to marry him and convert to Judaism. Her decision to become “part of a minority saddled with centuries of prejudice” caused painful endings to long-standing friendships. It also created tensions with Harry’s parents, who the author realized would have waged “a steady and relentless war” to keep the pair apart had they known she and Harry were dating. A move to Chicago allowed the pair a chance to build a successful marriage and life away from those who would judge them. Interwoven with the story of Gendler’s great-aunt and illustrated with family photographs, the author’s story offers an intimate and interesting—though not especially compelling—look at one woman’s life choices and their outcomes.

A somewhat lackluster but candid and heartfelt memoir.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63152-170-6

Page Count: 232

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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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