Minor, perhaps, but a revelation all the same, told with both candor and odd innocence.

BOY 30529

A MEMOIR

An unusually good-natured memoir about life in the Nazi camps and the travails of being a postwar refugee.

Weinberg, now a British physicist, had not planned to write a memoir, until a spate of well-publicized fake Holocaust survivor memoirs came out a few years ago. He does no specific debunking here but instead writes from the point of view of a privileged young man, barely a teenager, whose natural mode is playfulness, not meditation, and who has a quick, curious mind. Born into a Jewish family that also celebrated Christmas—the good timing of his brother’s birth, he writes, “brought me a three-year extension of Christmases” before the Nazis came into his native Czechoslovakia. On the Nazis, Weinberg waxes sardonic: He writes, for example, that Heinrich Himmler began the program of medical experimentation in the camps after failing to breed chickens successfully enough to make a living as a poultry farmer. “The most inventive of satirists could not have invented that one,” he writes. “It would be hilarious were it not for the millions of lives lost.” Weinberg does allow that the Nazis had one good idea, namely throwing him out of school and putting an end to “the only conventional school education I ever had.” Sent to Terezin and then Buchenwald, Weinberg endured long enough to see, most satisfyingly, the liberation of the camps by black American soldiers—and just in time, since the prisoners were bent on hanging their SS guards, who departed so quickly that “they left their uniforms and weapons in the barracks for us to play with.”

Minor, perhaps, but a revelation all the same, told with both candor and odd innocence.

Pub Date: April 9, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-78168-078-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Verso

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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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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