An engaging, reflective memoir.

Til Now

Brennan’s debut memoir depicts one man’s journey through war, love and loss.

How do we become who we are? Brennan’s debut memoir looks at the decisions that he feels made him the person he is today, and also shows the values of his family and his old neighborhood. Raised Roman Catholic in Jersey City, N.J., in the 1940s and ’50s, Brennan’s earliest memories are of men in uniform. His father and uncles all served in World War II, and during that time, he and his mother lived with his grandmother, prompting a close and lasting extended-family relationship. His father returned home when he was 4, and over the years, they could never quite move past a strained relationship. Brennan compensated with a love for baseball, a sport played in his neighborhood streets as well as in Roosevelt Stadium, a mere 15-minute walk from his home. The author’s passion for the sport carried him through his entire life and helped form his identity. He was also influenced by his time in the Army; he served in Germany just four years after the Berlin Wall was built. His responsibilities mainly consisted of keeping the soldiers in his platoon in line, and his sense of leadership, duty and purpose inspired him to pursue a job in teaching after he returned to America. He also dabbled in acting and singing along the way. The author effectively describes his childhood and adulthood, highlighting moments that he feels helped form him as a person. His recognition of his life’s influences lends texture and meaning to the story, which may compel readers to similarly reflect upon their own lives. Overall, he delivers a gentle tale of how his past helped create his future.

An engaging, reflective memoir.

Pub Date: May 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-1482366297

Page Count: 188

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2013

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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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