Despite the absence of insights, an entertaining life of a member in good standing of a highly elite band of brothers.

ONE PERFECT OP

AN INSIDER’S ACCOUNT OF THE NAVY SEALS’ TOP-SECRET SPECIAL WARFARE TEAMS

As-told-to autobiography of a member of the Navy’s elite SEAL special-force unit.

Joining the Navy in 1977 after six years as a paratrooper, Chalker quickly volunteered for the SEALs and sailed through the brutal training program. (Besides acquiring the vicious combat skills of other elite groups like the Green Berets, Rangers, and Commandos, SEALs also swim, sail, and dive; being cold and wet is a matter of pride.) Then he volunteered for an even more elite and secret antiterrorism SEAL unit, where he remained until he retired 20 years later. His unit participated in the Granada invasion and secret actions in the Middle East, but inevitably most of Chalker’s experience took place during peacetime: exercises followed by more exercises intermixed with Navy politics, interactions with colleagues in the unit, and a great deal of after-hours drinking and brawling. Deaths and injuries were not rare during both exercises and off-duty horseplay. Despite the lack of world-shaking events, Chalker’s life makes good reading. Military buffs will enjoy the nuts-and-bolts description of weaponry, gear, and tactics required for each special action. Many exercises—simulated hijackings, hostage rescues, or attacks on ships, docks, barracks, or offshore oil platforms—are surprisingly exciting even in the absence of an enemy; plenty of things go wrong in either case. Military historian Dockery (SEALs in Action, 1991) makes no attempt to get beneath his subject’s skin, so Chalker comes across as a super-bad macho dude devoted to deadly weapons, fighting, and his buddies on the team. Clearly he chose the right career, because these are perfect qualifications for a SEAL.

Despite the absence of insights, an entertaining life of a member in good standing of a highly elite band of brothers.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2002

ISBN: 0-380-97804-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2001

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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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