A tale full of horrors and redemption—an ideal text for scaring young at-risk youth straight.

LONG WAY HOME

“I was a hard case, and it seems like I needed to learn my lesson the hard way”: an affecting memoir of crime and punishment by a son of actor Michael Douglas.

The author grew up between well-to-do households where it was a party trick for him as a child to pass a joint among the beautiful people. By the age of 25, he was injecting cocaine three times an hour while realizing that “the worst-case scenario has already happened,” his opportunities in the show-business world long since tossed away. The worst case, though, had yet to develop: in and out of rehab, as well as the penal system, proceeding from juvenile detention to time in a federal prison full of warring racial factions, all brought on by a fierce addiction to heroin and a drug-selling operation meant to support it. Tough love on the part of family and friends along the way didn’t help; as Douglas writes, “my dynamic with Dad is seething frustration on his part and wounded sensitivity on mine." The author’s account is consistently unadorned, perhaps overly so, as when he describes the unpleasant odor of marijuana smuggled into the yard inside an inmate’s body cavity and the various acts of violence and resistance that can get a person thrown into an isolation unit as opposed to remaining in the general population. Douglas himself didn’t engage in much of this bad behavior, scorning the thought of having “spent my time in protective custody because I was afraid to walk the yard at a higher-security.” In the end, however, he came to the realization that there wasn’t much more he could learn from running gambling and cigarette operations inside the walls and concentrated on getting himself straight: “I finally saw that heroin didn’t fit with my new priorities, and finally stopped doing it.”

A tale full of horrors and redemption—an ideal text for scaring young at-risk youth straight.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-52083-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more