A lightweight but entertaining seriocomic search for selfhood.



A journalist attempts to reclaim his flagging manhood through hunting.

Online family-issues guru (manofthehouse.com) Heimbuch (Chasing Oliver Hazard Perry, 2010) roots this book in his desire to suddenly live up to the manly Midwestern values of his avid hunter father, who one day gave his son a 12-gauge shotgun as a gift. Heimbuch had been outdoorsy—fly fisherman, gearhead and L.L. Bean enthusiast—but had never ventured into gun-toting territory. The author’s quest to validate his manhood via pheasant hunting soon goes beyond the father-son issues into more of a personal challenge to break out of his blandly routinized life as a small-time reporter and dutiful husband. Along the way, the book derives its comedic appeal from Heimbuch’s built-in liberal defenses against the largely conservative gun culture he had to force himself to confront. In fact, his inaugural visit to the NRA’s Rivers of Freedom convention became the perfect opportunity to mine his combination of disgust and wide-eyed fascination with this gun-nut spectacle (complete with an appearance by gun-loving former rocker Ted Nugent) for comedic gold. The conflicted author then headed out for the wilds of Iowa to test his newfound resolve as a pheasant hunter, and he devotes the second half of the book to the unintentional humor that naturally comes out of a newbie hunter chasing elusive feathered creatures around in a forest. But Heimbuch doggedly persevered, and in the end, his noble quest to become a successful gamesman narrowly avoids anticlimax. Although the book essentially thrives on self-deprecating humor, there are some well-illustrated lessons about the unexpected benefits of stepping outside comfortable workaday routines to get a clearer perspective on one’s potential as a human being.

A lightweight but entertaining seriocomic search for selfhood.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-219786-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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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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