These powerful inquiries spurred by photos are history made flesh, the untold lives of the mostly forgotten.

THREE TEARLESS HISTORIES

The clash of fascism and communism on two continents over half a century, as traced through a few family photographs.

At one point, author and award-winning translator Hackl (Argentina’s Angel, 2014, etc.) describes his methodology as “a question-and-answer carousel between here and there: the basic data, rather sparse, not very vivid, without feelings, which our imagination has to supply.” The “our” in the reading of this book is the reader, because even though the elements are tragic, even horrific, the author’s tone remains matter-of-fact and speculative. Hackl is like an investigating detective pursuing a case where all the principals are long dead and the few who remain may be reluctant to talk. The first and longest of these files concerns a family threatened by anti-Semitic Austrian fascism; some of them moved to Brazil only to find a “dictatorship [that] must have seemed like a variant of Austro-fascism with a tropical gloss.” Two of them attempted to return to Austria but found themselves in what seemed like “a permanently provisional arrangement” between the country that was home and the Brazil that had become home. The piece begins and ends with a photo, though “invisible on this picture are the threads linking times and continents.” The second and shortest, “The Photographer of Auschwitz,” tells of the prisoner who was a photographer and was charged with documenting new arrivals, taking as many as 50,000 photos. One of the images became indelible—“four Jewish girls, naked, emaciated until they’re nothing more than skeletons, looking at us with big eyes. Four thirteen-year-olds who are about to die and are immensely ashamed of their nakedness.” Another is “the only cheerful photo from Auschwitz, of a wedding.” The third section also features a wedding photo from a concentration camp: two incarcerated dissidents, only one of whom would survive, and the son who tried to come to terms with their history and his life “in time-lapse photography. Because they are years of repressed memory.”

These powerful inquiries spurred by photos are history made flesh, the untold lives of the mostly forgotten.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9970034-3-7

Page Count: 216

Publisher: DoppelHouse Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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