Unmarred by self-pity, an arresting story that women and men suffering from heart disease will find, well, heartening.

AN ARROW THROUGH THE HEART

ONE WOMAN’S STORY OF BECOMING WHOLE AFTER A HEART ATTACK

A commanding chronicle of a year in a woman’s recovery from an unexpected and near-fatal heart attack.

Not only was Deborah Heffernan relatively young, only 44, but she had never smoked, she ate her fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, she maintained a healthy weight, and her family had no history of heart disease. Moreover, she had a loving husband, good friends, and a successful career. But there she was in yoga class, pressure crushing her chest. “I’m having a heart attack,” she told her teacher. Within minutes, the EMS was there, transporting her to a hospital and bypass surgery, while her family and friends stood a death watch. Heffernan did not die, but her life and the lives of everyone around her changed as she slowly worked her way back to health, with a defibrillator implanted to monitor every beat of the half a heart she now lived with. Her recovery, from her first hesitant walk from hospital bed to bathroom to a vacation in the Alaskan bush a year later, is described in sections that mirror the change of seasons. It encompasses longer and longer walks in the Maine woods, yoga, massage, and psychotherapy for her and her husband. It also involves a long and sometimes painful exploration of why, given her remarkably healthy lifestyle. Long years of hidden stress, going back to her mother’s death 30 years before and culminating in a job that found her living out of suitcases was her answer. The damage will never be undone, and a heart transplant may be in her future. On the positive side, Heffernan’s medical crisis mended years of strained family relationships, and she has learned to find significance in even the most casual encounters. Her personal tale is interspersed with salient information about heart disease, including the fact that it is the number one cause of death among American women, more than all cancers combined.

Unmarred by self-pity, an arresting story that women and men suffering from heart disease will find, well, heartening.

Pub Date: April 4, 2002

ISBN: 0-7432-2922-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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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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