A popular and memorable recounting of blood’s social and natural history, as well as Hayes’s own close encounter with the...

FIVE QUARTS

A PERSONAL AND NATURAL HISTORY OF BLOOD

A spry personal tour of hematology, from the author of Sleep Demons (2001).

In blood, Hayes finds many of life’s milestones. We are born in it, our family histories are defined by it, it permeates our religion and art. That first shaving nick, that first menstrual period—voilà, adulthood! Blood also has a lengthy and fascinating history, drawn here with a sure if selective hand. Hayes starts his investigation some 1800 years ago with a Greek doctor named Galen. As an overseer of injured gladiators, he had a ringside seat when it came to the inner workings of the body. Galen was a big believer in the body’s humors and in the art (as it were) of bloodletting, a practice that endured into the 20th century. Hayes moves about, looking into the enduring taboos associated with menstruation, the history of blood typing, the fictional Dracula and the very real blood-bathing Transylvanian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the renegade phlebotomist Elaine Giorgi, and the Italian bank robbers, all infected with AIDS, who knew if caught they would be freed under the “compassionate release” law that prevents the terminally ill from serving time. He profiles the pioneering experiments of Antoni van Leeuwenhoek, who first looked at blood under a microscope (“it consists of small round globules driven through a crystalline humidity of water,” the Dutchman wrote in 1674), Paul Ehrlich’s work with antibodies, and Jay Levy’s discoveries concerning AIDS. The author also recounts life with his partner Steve, who learned he was HIV-positive in 1994. Being so close to the matter, Hayes wanted to know just what lay behind the nerve-racking, quarterly blood tests Steve underwent; his text brings us into the lab work involved and the research being done, submerging readers in blood’s biology, chemistry, and politics.

A popular and memorable recounting of blood’s social and natural history, as well as Hayes’s own close encounter with the vital fluid. (Illustrations throughout)

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2005

ISBN: 0-345-45687-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2004

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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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