Interesting, long-repressed tales from a humble man relieved not to “have to remember anymore.”

RADIOMAN

AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF PEARL HARBOR AND WWII IN THE PACIFIC

A veteran remembers his small part in great events of the Pacific War.

Escaping a struggling Arkansas farm family, 16-year-old Ray Daves joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, and in 1939, after lying about his age, the Navy. During the next six years, advancing in rank at nearly every stop, he served as a radioman aboard many vessels and at a variety of land stations including Cold Bay and Kodiak, Ala., where he flew some search-and-destroy missions and observed the uneasy alliance between the Soviets and the Americans; Gulfport, Miss., where he celebrated V-J Day; and the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, then hard at work on part of the Manhattan Project. The heart of this memoir, however, is his eyewitness report of combat, first at Pearl Harbor, where he suffered a shrapnel wound, and then at the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway, where he survived the torpedoing of the Yorktown. For most of us, these signal events have been quietly committed to history. For Daves, the odor of burnt human flesh and the image of an onrushing Japanese pilot continue to haunt. Daves’s incident-filled career included brushes with fame—actor John Wayne, concert violinist Yehudi Menuhin, Admiral Chester Nimitz—and a prolonged and long-distance courtship of the girl to whom he remains married. A kind of one-man Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, Daves seems to understand and appreciate the minor role he played in momentous events. He still mourns the many friends lost in battle and, at this late stage in life, has finally been persuaded to speak in detail about his war. Hipperson (The Belly Gunner, 2001, etc.) smartly stays out of the way, basing her text on extensive interviews with her subject and adopting a first-person narration that permits Daves to emerge as the authentic voice and hero—a tag he would vigorously reject—of this straightforward, unassuming story.

Interesting, long-repressed tales from a humble man relieved not to “have to remember anymore.”

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-38694-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dunne/Minotaur

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2008

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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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