A disappointingly superficial, unrevealing adventure memoir.

CAPTIVE

Another perspective on the most famous hostage case in Colombia's troubled recent history.

Rojas, a lawyer and former legislator, was captured by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in 2002 with her friend, presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. The author would have been all but overshadowed by her world-famous co-captive—whose saintly reputation was sullied by the 2009 book Out of Captivity, written by three Americans held hostage in the same camp—had it not been for the fact that two years into her captivity, she became pregnant and delivered a baby boy via crude field-medicine techniques. Except for her capture and release and a couple of escapes that she and Betancourt attempted early on, the birth merits the majority of Rojas's attention. Though she maintains the mystery of her son Emmanuel's paternity, she writes that the pregnancy caused friction between her and her fellow hostages. She and Betancourt had fallen out after the escape attempts, but unlike the authors of the previous book, Rojas doesn't dwell on her friend's flaws. Rojas claims that she never sympathized with the guerrillas and holds righteous anger toward them for robbing her of six years of her life and separating her from Emmanuel not long after his birth, but the rebels' decency toward her, particularly during her pregnancy, shines through in contrast to the pettiness of her co-captives. Undoubtedly, the author's courage in withstanding her ordeal marks her as an unusual person with an extraordinary story to tell. Unfortunately, the narrative doesn't live up to the subject. Rojas says she wrote the book to put this unpleasant experience behind her and move on. In fact, she seems to have already been in the process of emotionally escaping from it as she wrote about it, resulting in a quick, light-handed sketch composed from a cautious distance.

A disappointingly superficial, unrevealing adventure memoir.

Pub Date: May 25, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4391-5695-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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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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