A somber, moving tribute to a life of ideals and struggle.



A beautifully crafted, searing memoir by the Chilean American writer about his dispersion and homelessness after fleeing the military junta of General Pinochet.

As a deeply engaged supporter of President Salvadore Allende, Dorfman (Desert Memories: Journeys Through the Chilean North, 2004, etc.) was banished from Chile when Pinochet seized power in 1973, assassinating the president and throwing the country into a convulsion of military repression and fear. Along with his wife and small son, Dorfman first sought refuge in Argentina (where he was born in 1942), then Amsterdam, Paris and finally the United States over the next 20 years—a bitter exile that defined and transformed him. A child of “perpetual wanderers”—his father, a communist, had been forced to leave Argentina with the family for Chile, then the U.S., before being hounded out during the McCarthy era—Dorfman was familiar with the miseries and loneliness of exile. He learned English early until his return to Chile at age 12, then immersed himself in the “language of insurrection,” Spanish. In exile, he used English to promote his lifelong pursuit to “vanquish silence” and expose the hideous human-rights abuses of the Pinochet dictatorship. Dorfman writes eloquently, even floridly, about his fiery early devotion to the peaceful socialist revolution of Allende, and that he and his starry-eyed generation were absolutely blindsided by the coup. In exile, his creative powers dried up (“What was happening to me, to us, was quite literally, unspeakable”), until he found courage in expression—his words would become “a territory where the dead could resuscitate.” Dorfman writes frankly of the morphing of his ideals, the seduction of America, the wariness with which he is regarded now by his Chilean compatriots and how he and his family decided not to stay in Chile when they finally returned in 1990.

A somber, moving tribute to a life of ideals and struggle.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-547-54946-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2011

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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 19, 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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