NAKED TO LOVE

LETTERS FROM A YOUNG AMERICAN IN PANAMA

For incurable romantics only, a trove of love letters half a century old, written by an American soldier to his bride. A kind of proto-beatnik, young Colie spent the early 1950s bumming around the Americas, hopping boxcars and tramp freighters to see where adventure might take him. Along the way, when both were 20 years old, he met and married Carole Calkins, who thought him “unusual and even a little mysterious.” Soon thereafter Colie was drafted into the army and sent off to the Panama Canal Zone, where he spent his time alternately going AWOL and composing the letters that are gathered here, which profess his zealous love. (That love didn—t keep young Colie from succumbing to the fleshy temptations of Panama City, and some of the more painful correspondence centers on his confession of infidelity, evidently forgiven.) When not professing his undying devotion, Colie describes the rigors of military life, for which he was not well suited, and, in stream-of-consciousness prose, his exotic surroundings: “The nights of the long, dark, crooked streets and the shacks and houses spread out toward the edges of the city night and bunched together along dark streets with dark jungle night behind them, the nights with yellow light coming out of windows and open doorways, the nights walking through strange neighborhoods, the nights with the people out in the streets and standing in the doorways . . . ” These descriptions rarely reach out beyond the Panamanian red-light districts, but they are better written than the average travelogue. Observing his youthful behavior in a postscript, Colie admits that the letters favor “a preoccupation with my own feelings at the expense of what I should have been writing.” That’s true. His writings won—t put Abelard and Heloise, or for that matter, Griffin and Sabine out of business, but readers of a certain bent may still enjoy Colie’s stroll down memory lane.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-57178-082-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Council Oak

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1999

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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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