A long-winded view of a fascinating game-changer.



A dense biography of Dr. Nafis Sadik, who changed the world for women through her work on population control.

Miller (Creative Writing/San Jose State Univ.; Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad, 1998, etc.) researched Sadik for 10 years to give us this biographical view of the former undersecretary-general and executive director of the U.N. Population Fund. The book follows the improbable path of the Pakistani Sadik through partition, medical school, her early work in local population control and her efforts for the U.N. Population Fund, which she directed for 13 years. Sadik’s family “celebrated her femininity, valued her wishes, gave her the same educational opportunities as her brothers, then encouraged her career and independence.” She worked passionately against genital mutilation, obstetric fistula and childhood marriage. Through Sadik’s tenure at the U.N., the organization was “able to bring respectability to the concept of family planning.” She helped set the tone for controlling population growth by empowering women through education and ensuring basic human rights. The apex of Sadik’s career was the U.N.’s 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo. She outmaneuvered even the Vatican to support reproductive choice for women, brokering consensus for a 20-year plan to address world population and development. Miller intersperses each chapter about Sadik with vignettes of women she met while researching this book. These personal stories introduce us to victims of abuse, persecution, genital mutilation, prostitution and gang rape. The author also uses extensive quotes to bolster her story, but these passages lack concision—as do other parts of the book. Ultimately, it’s a thoroughly researched, inspiring story that runs more than 100 pages too long.

A long-winded view of a fascinating game-changer.

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8032-1104-9

Page Count: 524

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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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 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...


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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