Engaging reading about an elegant modern-day Robin Hood.



An ex–jewel thief’s account of her more than 50-year career stealing fabulously expensive gems from some of the world’s most exclusive stores.

Born to an African American coal miner father and his Native American wife in the West Virginia community of Slab Fork, Payne grew up with a keen awareness of social injustice. She knew from childhood that “greedy coal mining companies made a ton of money” on poor families by skimping on housing and mine safety. Though her family lived decently, she and her mother sometimes became victims of her father’s violence. Determined to stay independent of men and help her mother get away from her father, Payne employed a talent for theft that she accidentally discovered while trying on watches at a jewelry store. She began her criminal career in her early teens stealing food from the market and money from school for her family. As her confidence grew, so did her desire to live in the luxury denied people of color. By her late teens, Payne used her beauty and charm to entice store jewelry store clerks into showing her the expensive jewelry she took with ease. Later, she became involved with a married Jewish businessman who introduced her to the black market underworld and helped her score major thefts all over the country. After his death, Payne set her sights on international heists at stores like Cartier and Bulgari. She served one light jail sentence late in her career for a minor theft, yet neither the FBI nor international police were ever able to definitively prove her guilt. Payne’s personal charm is clearly evident on every page, but what makes her book especially provocative is her righteous anger at a (largely white) diamond trade built on the backs of poor Africans and her belief that she was “notorious on purpose.”

Engaging reading about an elegant modern-day Robin Hood.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-291799-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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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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