High-minded speculation and documented assumptions are the building blocks of Stewart’s convincing memoir; whether perceived...

THE MOST DANGEROUS ANIMAL OF ALL

SEARCHING FOR MY FATHER...AND FINDING THE ZODIAC KILLER

An adopted Louisiana engineer’s search for his biological roots results in a shocking, highly controversial connection to the Zodiac Killer.

With its details legally vetted and enshrouded in pre-publication secrecy, Stewart’s head-turning memoir, skillfully co-written by veteran true-crime journalist Mustafa, explores how the search for personal truth can sometimes unearth unexpected results. Though his adoptive parents loved him unconditionally, the author still felt “discarded,” plagued by crippling feelings of insecurity and abandonment. At 39, Stewart writes of being contacted by his birth mother, Judy Gilford, a runaway who became pregnant by an older, seductive man. The author, ecstatic at their reunion, began journaling his experience, which soon included an intensive, obsessive search for his father, who he believes to be Earl Van Best Jr., a statutory rapist Stewart would soon discover had abandoned him in a Baton Rouge apartment building stairwell—and who he believes went on to become a notorious murderer. The narrative begins to build suspenseful momentum only after early sections that re-create Best’s fractured childhood and early adulthood (heavily influenced, claims Stewart, by notorious Satanist Anton LaVey). Then the author chronicles the ensuing killing spree, encrypted communications and police-taunting media spectacle that immortalized him as the Zodiac Killer. The author painstakingly pieces together over a decade’s worth of personal research and verbatim interviews with family, friends and law enforcement, then goes further to scrutinize and compare handwriting samples, police sketches and photographs, all bearing uncanny resemblances to recorded documentation from the Zodiac files. Stewart soberingly remarks that while the burden of DNA proof remains elusive, the closure he has received with his personal investigation has satisfactorily provided the “truth about my life.”

High-minded speculation and documented assumptions are the building blocks of Stewart’s convincing memoir; whether perceived as the byproduct of shrewd spadework or a fertile imagination, the author’s family history offers chilling and credible correlations.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-231316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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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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