An insider’s you-are-there look at modern war. Veterans will love it or hate it, but there will be few in between.

UN-AMERICAN

A SOLDIER'S RECKONING OF OUR LONGEST WAR

An Afghanistan veteran assails war and the military.

In his debut book, Edstrom makes it abundantly clear that he hates war, especially America’s “two illegal wars of aggression” in Afghanistan and Iraq and the “sensationalized” war on terror. The author also has little positive to relate about West Point, military training, military spending, the military’s refusal to let people in uniform opt out of wars they oppose on moral grounds, and the governments that lead us into these wars. Throughout, Edstrom is unrelenting in his criticism. “The U.S. military, as it is currently used,” he writes, “is not a wholesome institution: it escalates violence around the world, and inculcates a pro-nationalism, pro-militarism dogma that is hard to shake.” Edstrom certainly has the credentials to speak his mind on this topic: He is a graduate of West Point and the U.S. Army Rangers School, was selected for the U.S. Special Forces, received a Bronze Star, and served as an infantry platoon leader in the toughest parts of Afghanistan. His story, part memoir and part manifesto, runs from his late high school days through West Point and the war in Afghanistan to 2019. He opens by asking his readers to consider three visions: their own death in war, how they would feel if another nation invaded the U.S. to protect us from an unpopular president, and what the world would be like if there had been no war. Then he divides the book into three parts, each part examining one of the visions. Edstrom does not shy away from recounting the gruesome conditions and challenges he faced during his deployment, including watching his friends being blown apart by roadside bombs. While he does express some hope, he believes peace will happen only if all Americans demand an end to war.

An insider’s you-are-there look at modern war. Veterans will love it or hate it, but there will be few in between.

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63557-374-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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