Adds little to our understanding of violent international drug smuggling.

MULE

MY DANGEROUS LIFE AS A DRUG SMUGGLER TURNED DEA INFORMANT

Melodramatic account of a marijuana smuggler who switched sides.

El Paso–based motivational speaker Heifner asserts that his criminal involvement followed a limited arc. Over several months, he accepted a number of missions from his flashy, vulgar college friend Jake, driving carloads of cannabis across the Mexican border. When arrested, the author received a light sentence of probation and deferred adjudication and a visit from DEA agents, which inspired the none-too-thoughtful Jake to threaten Heifner and his family’s lives. This led him to volunteer as a DEA informant in order to keep his family safe. The author works to document Jake’s connection to large loads of pot, even while redeeming himself by returning to school and reconciling with his harried wife. Although Heifner endeavors to get inside his paranoid, angst-ridden mindset, the prose is too hasty—much of the narrative reads like a Maxim true-crime article expanded to book length, with artificial dialogue and a constant stream of cliché and overheated language (“I was a wrecking ball, and everyone else was a straw house”). The lack of verisimilitude is also unfortunate. Heifner does not explicitly identify many of the characters or cases (other than an epilogue that mentions the arrest of Jake’s partner), and conveniently, Jake disappeared and is presumed dead. Heifner is an unsympathetic protagonist, as he expresses contempt for the incompetent cops and criminals around him, trumpeting his own superior intelligence rather than looking for nuance or irony in his circumstances, and he portrays minor characters in terms verging on sexist or racist caricature.

Adds little to our understanding of violent international drug smuggling.

Pub Date: July 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7627-8028-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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