After being forced into service on a freight ship, a naïve teenager sails around the world, learning more about life than he bargained for.

As a 15-year-old, Jack Sligo is a romantic dreamer; he wants to not only see the world, but experience it. So he ditches his safe, predictable life in Boston and travels to New York where he hopes to get work on a magnificent cruise ship sailing to exotic ports. When New York is a bust, Jack goes to Mobile, Ala., where he hooks up with a couple of seamen who take him out drinking and partying. Upon waking up the next morning, Jack discovers he has been shanghaied; for all intents and purposes, he is now a slave aboard a huge African freighter, the Iron Prince. Contending with hard men, each of whom has a tale of hard-won experience, foreign languages and harsh, tedious work, Jack rapidly matures into a young man. At a small port in Venezuela where he rubs shoulders with criminals, riff-raff and prostitutes, Jack participates in the shanghaiing of a cook. On the ship, Jack befriends a Jamaican named Winston, who was shanghaied at the age of 12. Always on the lookout for a way to escape, Jack and Winston engage in vicious knife fights, battle hurricanes and live through a shipwreck. At the story’s climax, when the ship heads to Odessa in the Soviet Union, Jack finally discovers who he is. Collins writes with authenticity, having lived the life he relates. With the author’s vivid descriptions, the reader can feel the men’s sweat and smell the stink of the ship. The dialogue is crisp and realistic, offering glimpses into each character’s personality. Collins’ effortlessly natural, nonjudgmental voice makes for an easy read. An entertaining, poignant coming-of-age memoir.


Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2011


Page Count: 265

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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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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