An inspiring story of beating the odds.



A motivational autobiography of the nation’s first African-American dean of a major medical school.

Wilson’s life traces a remarkable arc. Born in Massachusetts in 1936 to a father who fled South Carolina to escape a lynching, the author had many hurdles in front of him from the beginning. However, the successful life he subsequently carved out with determination, hard work and honesty proves that a strong sense of self can launch a person beyond limitations. Except for the final two chapters, with their neatly packaged lessons in leadership, this book consists of a straightforward account of Wilson’s life, from birth to retirement. From the age of nine, after a visit from a local physician to treat his terrible case of pneumonia, Wilson knew that he wanted to be a doctor. Forget that this was 1945 and long before the civil-rights movement; ignore the fact that a few years later his elementary school principal would think it more appropriate for him to attend the local trade school rather than the college-preparatory high school. Wilson knew what he wanted to do and had the intelligence and tenacity to go after it. After college at Harvard, where he was one of only nine African-American students on campus, Wilson landed at Tufts University Medical School in 1958, at a time when minorities made up about two percent of the medical-school student population nationwide. Wilson was forced to blaze his own trail, a fact magnified by the fact that there were no African-American faculty or professionals in the school to serve as role models or mentors. The book includes poignant moments in the author’s life: providing medical care to the very same people who would not rent a house to him because of his race; developing his reputation as a leading researcher in New York; and becoming the first African-American Chief of Gastroenterology at the University of Illinois School of Medicine in Chicago. Through it all, Wilson faced discrimination from those who could not imagine an African-American man as the dean of a major medical school, no matter how stellar his qualifications. Nevertheless, Wilson became the dean of the University of Maryland medical school in 1991 and overhauled its direction, culture and curriculum before retiring 15 years later. This autobiography is heavy on the literal details of his accomplishments and less fulfilling in terms of providing lessons for the reader to take away from his experiences. Still, it exemplifies how strong focus and resolve can bring what seems impossible within grasp.

An inspiring story of beating the odds.

Pub Date: May 21, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4392-2268-3

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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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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