Dramatic and laugh-out-loud funny, beautifully written and deftly constructed, deeply affecting in its honest portrayal of...

KEEPING FAITH

A FATHER AND SON JOURNEY INTO THE U.S. MARINE CORPS

Father and son jointly relate their experiences when the younger man joins the Marines.

To escape Dad's constant meddling, John leaves suburban Boston after high-school graduation in 1999 and heads for Marine Corps training on Parris Island, South Carolina. Novelist father Frank (Saving Grandma, 1997, etc.) expresses concern and embarrassment; the Schaeffers are the affluent sort who send their kids to college, not the military. Personal narratives and letters by both men chronicle the period from August through November, when John graduates. Both are gifted writers: the father open about his flaws, the son a skillful and humorous observer of Corps life. Life on PI begins with complete disorientation: yelling, panic, constant exercise, long sleepless stretches, not enough food, and no time references bewilder the recruits. Back home, Dad has to defend his son's choice to insensitive neighbors. Things gradually change. John accepts the discipline from his four drill instructors, succeeds with the physical discipline, and loves the intense unity. Raised in Switzerland, Frank develops a patriotic burst for the US, expressed in an appreciation for our freedoms and applied to local political issues. He befriends other Marine families and comes to revile Bill Clinton. John loses 12 pounds and fantasizes about Burger King. The recruits lack the time and energy to make friendships, but they form a protective bond. To graduate, they must remain calm in a gas chamber, survive a swim test with full gear, and pass a difficult rifle exam. In the final pages, John is doing advanced training in Florida, and Frank’s planned visit is derailed by 9/11. Though worried after the terrorist attack, he writes, “At least I knew that I could look the men and women in uniform in the eye. My son was one of them.”

Dramatic and laugh-out-loud funny, beautifully written and deftly constructed, deeply affecting in its honest portrayal of the authors’ passions: a stunning achievement.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-7867-1097-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more