A thoughtful, poignant, and candid memoir perfect for Conroy fans.

PAT CONROY

OUR LIFELONG FRIENDSHIP

An educational consultant and writer recalls his friendship with the late novelist.

Schein (Famous All Over Town, 2014, etc.) first met Pat Conroy (1945-2016) in early 1961 when both were students in Beaufort, South Carolina. Schein was a self-professed cheater who hated school while Conroy was the social and athletic star everyone adored. Yet both were also outsiders. Though a South Carolina native, Schein was a Jew in a majority Christian South, and Conroy was a “military brat” who, until arriving in Beaufort, had moved every year he had been in school. The pair bonded in high school and then deepened their attachment after college when they returned to Beaufort “to dodge the draft and to teach, in that order.” They soon discovered that their anti-racist beliefs and civil rights activism put them at odds with the conservative white power structure in Beaufort, including the board of education. In 1970, the year Schein went to graduate school at Harvard, Conroy lost his job as a teacher at an all-black school for daring to change a curriculum that emphasized obedience to authority rather than learning. While Schein continued his professional pursuits in education, Conroy left teaching to write. His autobiographical first novel, The Great Santini (1976), about the relationship between a son and his abusive military father, made Conroy a household name. But fame and the repressed rage he harbored against his father transformed the mild-mannered Conroy into an alcoholic “word-sniper” and “verbal hitman” who took cruel shots at everyone, including Schein. In 1990, Schein refused to publish a story in a school magazine by Conroy’s stepdaughter that discussed the sexual abuse she had endured from her birth father. Their friendship ended, but the two continued to talk “about each other all the time.” The men reconciled 15 years later and remained close until Conroy died. Honest in its portrayal of both Conroy and Schein’s own conflicted feelings toward the novelist, the lucid narrative deftly explores the complexities of a lifelong friendship.

A thoughtful, poignant, and candid memoir perfect for Conroy fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-948924-13-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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