BLOW

HOW A SMALL-TOWN BOY MADE $100 MILLION WITH THE MEDELL°N COCAINE CARTEL AND LOST IT ALL

The up-your-nose, in-your-face life of George Jung, the high-school football star from small-town USA who became the American linchpin of the Colombian cocaine connection. Relying on extensive interviews with Jung and other key figures, Porter (Journalism/Brooklyn College) recounts a sleigh- ride-to-hell story of how 60's hippie innocence turned into 80's megadepravity. Porter dwells too long on Jung's unexceptional childhood (poor grades, risk-taking, shaky family life) but picks up steam when his subject comes of age—as a likable, handsome, well-muscled hedonist—and takes off for California and a haze of sunbathing, sex, pot, and LSD. Soon enough, Jung becomes chief marijuana importer to a number of prestigious East Coast colleges. Likening himself to Butch Cassidy, he moves his operation to Mexico and makes a mint until a series of busts stops him—temporarily. In prison, Jung befriends a young Carlos Lehder and links up with the Medell°n coke cartel. The money bandied about is staggering: The Colombian suppliers gross $35 billion a year, and Jung buys a house just to stash his cash (lining floors and walls with $100 bills): ``Money, Learjets, fast cars, wild women, houses with maids,'' is how he recalls it later. Inevitably, the roller-coaster hits the steep downward slope: paranoia, as Jung snorts mountains of coke; a heart attack in his mid-30s; a car-bomb attack by Lehder, by now a business enemy; scary trips to Colombia, during one of which Jung watched coke czar Pablo Escobar execute a police informer; a flurry of arrests and escapes; finally, the Big Bust. But, as always, Jung comes out unscathed, turning state's witness (with Escobar's approval) to sing against Lehder. Set scot-free in exchange for his testimony, Jung now works in a legit delivery service, transporting fish up and down Cape Cod. How a happy hippie blew it on blow—finely researched, told with pizzazz. (Illustrations)

Pub Date: June 30, 1993

ISBN: 0-06-017930-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1993

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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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