A series of gripping and fascinating medical stories.



A physician’s memoir of service in war zones around the world.

Even during training, British surgeon Nott thrilled to hear stories of colleagues who delivered care in poor, often war-torn nations. After receiving a post at Charing Cross Hospital in London in 1992, he proceeded to do the same. Many international charities, such as the Red Cross, require a substantial commitment, so they often attract retirees or the wealthy. Like many physicians in their prime, Nott chose to work with Doctors Without Borders, founded in France, which accepts volunteers for as little as a few weeks. Almost immediately, the author was sent to Sarajevo, under siege during the vicious civil war in the former Yugoslavia. There followed tours in Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Haiti, Palestine, and, more recently, Syria, where he encountered countless heartbreaking examples of the enormous suffering humans inflict on each other in times of political violence and war. Quickly learning that dealing with the catastrophic injuries from explosives and high-velocity bullets required skills not taught during surgical training, he found himself making lifesaving decisions under primitive conditions, often without technical aids. Most readers will know what to expect, and Nott does not disappoint, delivering riveting, generally gruesome stories of victims who came under his care and the professionals, mostly admirable, who worked with him. He is not shy about discussing his work, so readers will learn much about how battle surgeons go about their job. Nott soon discovered that this was knowledge other volunteers and nearly all local doctors were also lacking, so he began to teach a course entitled “Surgical Techniques in Austere Environments,” which caught on. The author’s efforts to publicize these horrors made him well known—and this book was a No. 1 bestseller in Britain—but unfortunately persuaded no Western governments to take action to end them, which they (unlike the humanitarian organizations) had the power to accomplish.

A series of gripping and fascinating medical stories.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4424-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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