A candid portrait of an indefatigable woman.

A WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE

A MEMOIR

Growing up queer in midcentury America.

In 2010, Windsor (1929-2017) sued the United States for recognition of her marriage to a woman, claiming her legal right of inheritance from her late wife’s estate. Her victory in the suit, which catapulted her to fame, marked the transformation of a deeply closeted woman into an outspoken gay rights activist. In a forthright and vivid memoir, written with the assistance of journalist Lyon (Pill Head: The Secret Life of a Painkiller Addict, 2009), Windsor reveals her early realization of her attraction to women and her long struggle to navigate homophobia among family members and at work, to live openly as a lesbian, and to marry the woman she loved. After Windsor died, Lyon took over the unfinished project, resulting in “a memoir/biography hybrid” that complements, and often deepens, Windsor’s narrative with information and insights that Lyon uncovered from his continued research. Lyon discovered, for example, that Windsor had a fierce temper, that her skill as a card counter enabled her to win big in casinos, and that she tended to “brush past” painful memories, such as the rift within her family caused by her sexuality. Although Windsor knew she was gay, she married a man who had been a close family friend, thinking she could bury her feelings for women. Soon, however, she rebelled against the charade: “The core of my identity, my natural biological instinct, wasn’t going to change.” Divorced, she moved to Greenwich Village, where she dove energetically into gay social life and sex. “She went through so many women,” a friend told Lyon. At the same time, she embarked on a successful career as a mathematician, writing programs for the UNIVAC computer and eventually developing software at IBM. In the workplace, she deflected matchmakers by pretending to have a boyfriend. In 2007, when she married Dutch-born psychologist Thea Spyer after a relationship of more than 40 years, co-workers asked her why she had lied to them. Windsor’s world had changed dramatically.

A candid portrait of an indefatigable woman.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-19513-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

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 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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