Full of vivid detail and emotion, this compelling memoir captures the ache of a young child desperate for safety and...

THE BROKEN CIRCLE

A MEMOIR OF ESCAPING AFGHANISTAN

Looking back on her perilous flight from Soviet-invaded Afghanistan in 1980, Ahmadi-Miller re-creates a child’s terror and loyalty to her family.

One of eight children in a wealthy family in Kabul, the author remembers her enchanted childhood before war as a time of “fun and camaraderie.” Her father, Padar, an engineer by training, worked at the American Embassy down the street from their house in the Karte Seh neighborhood and also as a landowner. His elegant wife, Miriam, was “a modern woman” who sewed beautiful clothes for the children, although she had a heart problem that would require her to leave for an operation in India. As one of the youngest, Ahmadi-Miller adored her older sisters, who had suitors and fine clothes. As the author records in this fluid text, she grew up in the 1970s, which was “one of the most prosperous periods in the history of Afghanistan,” when privileged children of both sexes were allowed to go to school and there were elements of Western mores and gender equality. However, in the countryside, there still existed devastating poverty and staunchly old-fashioned, conservative beliefs, as she would discover as they fled to Pakistan. With the violent arrival of the socialist, Soviet-backed coup, the family was no longer safe in Kabul. Padar, a proud, devoted Afghan, was being monitored by the Soviets and descended into alcoholism; Miriam fled with two of her children to India, leaving the others to fend for themselves. Even as a young child, the author came to the sinking realization that “Padar would never leave, and Mommy would never return to a country at war” despite Ahmadi-Miller’s ardent hopes that she would. The most harrowing section of the narrative concerns one of the family’s loyal bodyguards and his determination to whisk the remaining children into Pakistan without their father.

Full of vivid detail and emotion, this compelling memoir captures the ache of a young child desperate for safety and security.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5039-0378-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 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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