A riveting, sensational, unforgettable autobiography.



A sister’s incriminating memoir exposing her abusive upbringing and a brother’s felonious misdeeds.

Former Dutch criminal lawyer Holleeder, who wrote her unsparing memoir in complete secrecy, retraces the history behind the notoriously ruthless past of her gangster kingpin brother Willem (aka Wim). She compellingly recounts the first coldblooded attempt on her brother-in-law Cor van Hout’s life, then flashes back through a miserably dysfunctional childhood with three other siblings, all tormented by an abusive “megalomaniac” father in a brutish household where “crying was forbidden.” Despite her father’s tyrannical rule, Wim emerged as the greatest source of familial horror as the family became “worn out by the terror that had passed from father to son.” Wim was implicated alongside van Hout in the 1983 kidnapping of Freddy Heineken, and both served lengthy jail sentences. But Wim’s reign of crime was just beginning. Fresh out of prison, unrepentant, “cold and heartless,” Wim demandingly insinuated himself into Holleeder’s and her sister Sonja’s personal lives, upending them both. In a brisk and vividly descriptive narrative, the author spares no detail as she chronicles the fearful years following an attempt on van Hout’s life, noting that subsequent attacks were sure to follow. A third assassination attempt mutilated van Hout in public as Wim also deployed a string of extortion plots and contract killings across Amsterdam. Legal proceedings and jail sentences followed, while a frustrated Holleeder kept seeing her brother released to continue his reign of Mafia-style crime. Processing feelings of guilt and betrayal while clearly risking her life, the author began cooperating with the Justice Department. She testified against Wim and then visited him in prison wearing a recording device to pick up his confession to orchestrating van Hout’s murder. Currently in hiding as the case proceeds, Holleeder has written a harrowing, courageous account of murder and family loyalty while sacrificing her career and her identity in the process.

A riveting, sensational, unforgettable autobiography.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-47530-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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