EDITH'S STORY

THE TRUE STORY OF A YOUNG GIRL'S COURAGE, LOVE AND SURVIVAL DURING WWII

This significant Holocaust memoir of a girl hiding in Holland will be compared to Anne Frank’s diary, though it is very different. Yes, Edith went into hiding in the same city and same month as Anne Frank, and her mother even met Miep Gies, who hid the Franks. But while the Frank diary took decades to get recognized, this book (largely in diary format) was condensed by Reader’s Digest, won a literary award in England, and will be published in four other languages. Anne was also a precocious preteen, but more famous for diary entries on her family’s psychology and philosophical musings. Edith isn’t analytical, but her description is superior. In the 1940 invasion of neutral and safe Holland, for example, anti-aircraft fire is “heavy dark smoke clouds and little gray puffs, like bubbles,” and German paratroopers arrive in “hundreds of little black balloons.” Because she was, at 14, an ordinary teenager, she talks about boys, skating, school, and clothes. A very secular person with a Jewish grandmother, Edith sees herself as Jewish when Nazi laws forbid her from attending school or riding her bike. She wears the “ugly” yellow star of David as a “badge of honor” that prompts the sympathetic Dutch to say, “Keep your chin up.” As the situation deteriorates, her ailing mother and grandmother are caught by the Germans, one older brother escapes to America, and her non-Jewish father wastes away. Once the coddled baby, Edith has to spend her late teens posing as a gentile with the zur Kleinmiedes family—who already had to board Nazi officers. She can only shout her real name to the wind, thinking about deprivations like their one-egg-a-month ration and waiting for liberation. In another major difference from Anne Frank, Edith survives to double her diary’s content with adult comments. A valuable opportunity to see the situation just outside Anne’s attic.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-56947-178-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Soho

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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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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