An absolutely compelling war memoir marked by the author’s incredible strength of character and vulnerability.

WAR FLOWER

MY LIFE AFTER IRAQ

A devastating memoir of a woman’s experiences in Iraq that ultimately reflects how “there is no real end to war, only the absence of it, a lull in the fighting, a time during which another generation is born for the kill.”

At the age of 19, King (It’s My Country Too: Women’s Military Stories from the American Revolution in Afghanistan, 2017, etc.) was deployed to Iraq as a “wheel-vehicle mechanic,” which required her to recover vehicles rendered inoperable due to mechanical issues often caused by enemy fire. However, sometimes she also had to salvage the body parts of fellow soldiers who had been killed in those vehicles. “We were told every soldier gets a black bag and every piece of flesh, bone, or body part not connected to a full body was to have its own separate bag,” she writes. As a sergeant explained, “there is no certainty that the leg lying near one body is actually that body’s leg. It’s not your job to figure that shit out. It’s your job to clean it up.” Throughout her deployment she saw soldiers inured to the violence and death, and she tried to be detached and courageous even when she was thrown for a loop by mortar fire that left a fragment of shrapnel in her shin. Impressively, King coolly relates the countless horrors she witnessed. Readers who don’t know certain elements of war jargon—Strykers, nametape defilade, BOHICA, etc.—should consult a dictionary or the internet; this immediate narrative has little room for such explanations. As if her nightmarish experiences in the war weren’t difficult enough, she relates the equally arduous challenge of returning home pregnant with twins and suffering from and denying PTSD. Throughout, King’s descriptions are graphic, clear, and frightening to read.

An absolutely compelling war memoir marked by the author’s incredible strength of character and vulnerability.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64012-118-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Potomac Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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