A slim, straightforward addition to the record of space travel.

APOLLO PILOT

THE MEMOIR OF ASTRONAUT DONN EISELE

A posthumous memoir gives an unsung astronaut his due.

In the annals of manned space flight, Donn Eisele (1930-1987) would seem to be the forgotten man, his name not as recognizable as that of crewmates Wally Schirra and Walt Cunningham, let alone John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. Yet the author was a member of Apollo 7, the first manned mission in the Apollo program following the tragic launch that had killed their predecessors. Well after his death, his widow shared some artifacts that included various drafts of a memoir, mainly focusing on his formative experiences in becoming an astronaut and his vivid impressions of the historic mission. Yet the book also suggests his bitterness at being marginalized in the aftermath of the mission and the tensions between the astronauts and those on the ground, particularly those more concerned with the public image of the space program than with safety. He calls the launch-pad fire that took the lives of the three original Apollo astronauts “so preventable, so unnecessary—almost criminal.” He presents Schirra as something of a prima donna, but all three crewmembers shared some suspicion and disdain toward those they felt were more concerned with timetables, budgets, and public image than with sharing responsibility with the astronauts who had more actual experience. Eisele writes of the need to keep the astronauts’ constant philandering secret and of the willing young women who were passed from one astronaut to the next. As the first astronaut to divorce, shortly after returning from space, he soon realized that he had no future with NASA. He was “very bitter about his treatment,” according to his second wife, who says that not a single friend from the tightly knit astronaut community attended their wedding. Because astronauts aren’t necessarily writers, even those with extraordinary experiences have trouble rendering them as more than, “I’m free! I’m floating! What a feeling!” But now those feelings are attached to a name barely mentioned in historical accounts.

A slim, straightforward addition to the record of space travel.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8032-6283-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: Sept. 8, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2016

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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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