THE LAST MAN ON THE MOON

ASTRONAUT EUGENE CERNAN AND AMERICA'S RACE IN SPACE

A hokey autobiography of American astronaut and moon-walker Cernan. Cernan commanded the last of the Apollo missions, number 17, destination Moon, where he and mission geologist Jack Schmitt took a walk. It was a long haul of a career to make those few steps—in all likelihood, a career exquisitely nuanced, serendipitous, and with a few tales to tell, but what gets served up here is Cernan the hayseed patriot. “The Cold War became the crucible in which my military career was forged” will tip readers off early as to where things are headed. Training in California, he experiences an earthquake and interprets it as “God’s way of saying, ‘Welcome to the real world, you nugget.’ “ Vietnam rages in the background, and Cernan makes note of it with such comments as, “the bloody battle of the Ia Drang Valley proved those little guys could fight us to a standstill.” He briefly hits a stride chronicling his space walk on an earlier mission—a truly hellacious, slow-motion episode, in which a welter of little glitches nearly kills him—and his profiles of the other pilots in the space program are easily the most entertaining parts of the book, although they too can be facile (of Walter Schirra, “He was a cold-nerved pilot, by God”). When he steps off the ladder of the lunar module and treads upon the surface of the Moon, he stays true to form—no poetry, just “Oh, my golly.” And questions of tone aside, there is too much lumber passing as prose in these pages (“Roger was a workaholic, and I guess we all were, but off-duty, he had a great sense of humor”), despite the assistance of amanuensis Daavis Even if Cernan is an aw-shucks kind of guy, this much corn makes his story a bland affair. (16 pages b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 22, 1999

ISBN: 0-312-19906-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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