Thoughtful, well-intended grandfatherly advice, well worth a bent ear.



In this collection of epistolary essays, Nagle ruminates on a meaningful, enjoyable life, gradually accreting pearls of wisdom.

At 85 years old, Nagle found himself feeling “like a library, full of practical information,” wishing he could be to his grandchildren “what my own grandfather had been to me: a mentor and source of practical wisdom about living.” Here, he has set that wisdom to the page with hearty results. There’s much food for thought, and what readers disagree with may ignite a desire to frame their own notions. Readers will find themselves nodding along with Nagle’s dictum, “Living in a pretend external world is difficult. Living in a pretend inner world is madness.” They may, perhaps, be attracted to his suggestion that “our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.” Nagle’s soothing, folksy voice makes plain the power of greed, the importance of sleep and the devastation of stress. He provides a critique of income disparity—“the structure of government is not the rule of…those who can vote…it is now effectively based on capitalism”—before moving onto more practical discussions, such as how to bank a fire. He also touches on the evolution and migration of the soul. Autobiographical material is inserted when appropriate; there are wonderfully evocative scenes of working at the circus and the horse-drawn milk wagons of his youth (“Rankin Dairy used rubber shoes on their horses, but that only made the sound of their hooves striking the pavement more distinctive.”). He closes with a number of essays on the importance of a healthy lifestyle, but like the rest of the book, there’s nothing insistent or admonitory. This collection of wisdom is simply drawn from his life—humbly offered, commonsensical, all of it deeply mulled.

Thoughtful, well-intended grandfatherly advice, well worth a bent ear.

Pub Date: June 28, 2011

ISBN: 978-1462022038

Page Count: 364

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: June 21, 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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