A gripping and often charming wartime story.


An autobiographical novel about an American medic’s experiences in World War II.

Paul Kramer grows up in Dorchester, a neighborhood of Boston, and in 1943, at age 18, enlists in the U.S. Army. He’s shuttled to Virginia’s Camp Pickett for basic medic training, where he’s shocked by the brazenly contemptuous enforcement of racial segregation. Although he struggles with the food during training—he’s Jewish and strictly observes kosher dietary restrictions—he distinguishes himself enough to be sent to medical and surgical technicians’ school at Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis for an intensive 10-week course. He then travels to Scotland by ship through waters populated by German submarines, and he’s later sent to England. After discovering a black-market operation within the ranks, he’s assigned to a military police battalion and given combat instruction by British Special Forces. He’s eventually sent to France and hand-picked for a clandestine reconnaissance mission with French Resistance fighters. His experiences abroad are remarkably eventful—he meets generals George S. Patton and Dwight D. Eisenhower, plays jazz piano for British aristocrats, and is serenaded by singer Dinah Shore. Kramer’s military career is also notably honorable: he participates in a mission to save a captured colonel and later gets a Purple Heart. Debut author Kozol says that he wrote this book as a personal memoir but changed some names to protect the anonymity of many of the people he knew. However, the story is told in the third person, his own name is changed to “Paul Kramer,” and the reasons for these unusual authorial decisions are never made clear—or even remarked upon. The book also episodically reflects on the protagonist’s childhood and his life after the war—he becomes an optometrist—but its best moments are in its tales of war abroad, which are consistently engrossing throughout. The prose style is clear, if unremarkable, and the author appears to excise some of the grittier aspects of his experience, including expletives, which makes the work as a whole feel bowdlerized at times. That said, the story itself is as good as anything a novelist could conjure from his or her imagination.

A gripping and often charming wartime story.

Pub Date: June 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4808-4303-5

Page Count: 545

Publisher: Archway Publishing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2018

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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 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...


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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