Competently written, though weighed down by a narrative more tenuous than tangible.

DUST TO DUST

A MEMOIR

One man’s philosophical explorations into the trials of childhood, adulthood and the Marine Corps.

In his debut memoir, actor/writer Busch—son of writer Frederick Busch—proves his own literary talents by delving deep into the memories of his coming-of-age amid war and literature. While his poignant, nostalgia-laced boyhood remembrances provide an occasionally entertaining backdrop, far more interesting are Busch’s experiences serving in Iraq. Yet even the war scenes take on a meditative gloss, replacing the pulse-pounding moments with muted reflections on life, death and the preservation of memory. In one particularly reflective passage, Busch writes, “People die with their stories every day, taking them and leaving a history of gathered objects.” The author seeks to spare himself the same fate, recording the epiphanies and minutiae of his life as if to keep from being forgotten. What the book lacks in narrative arc it makes up for in organization. Busch relies not on chronology, but thematic links, connections between his life and the elements with which he surrounds himself: water, metal, soil, bone, wood and others. The author’s ability to reveal beauty in the mundane—the dismantling of a sandbox, the drilling of an ice-fishing hole, the burial of a goat—does much to entice readers, but his somewhat sprawling narrative fails to reach its intended crescendo.

Competently written, though weighed down by a narrative more tenuous than tangible.

Pub Date: March 20, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-201484-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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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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