A luminously written, always insightful account of one woman’s encounter with personal and political liberation. (8 pp....

THE COUNTRY UNDER MY SKIN

A MEMOIR OF LOVE AND WAR

Nicaraguan poet, novelist (The Inhabited Woman, 1994), participant in, and witness to, the Nicaraguan revolution, Belli recalls with engaging candor the course of a life lived to the full.

In its twists and turns, moments of danger followed by intense romantic encounters, Belli’s memoir can resemble exuberant historical fiction. But despite her self-confessed naïveté and romantic temperament, Belli is a thoughtful and honest observer of herself and her times, critical of the course the Revolution took once the Sandinistas were in power and of the way the Ortega brothers monopolized power: “the Revolution slowly lost its steam, its spark—to be replaced by an unprincipled, manipulative, and populist mentality.” The daughter of an upper-class family in Managua, Belli led a privileged life that included trips and schooling abroad. In 1967, barely 18, she married, but continued working even after having her first daughter. At an advertising agency, she worked with a colleague, the “Poet,” who encouraged her writing, seduced her, and introduced her to his artistic and revolutionary friends. In 1970, she was asked to join the Sandinistas, becoming a trusted courier and accompanying leaders to clandestine assignations. She fell in love, left her husband, lived in exile in Costa Rica when she became a target of Somoza’s police, and had meetings with many luminaries, including Castro, who admired her poems. She won awards for her poetry, and, once the Sandinistas took over, was a prominent member of the new government. She began dating an American NPR correspondent whom she eventually married, and now divides her time between California and Nicaragua. Belli appreciates that the Revolution permanently changed her life, but she’s also learned that “not every commitment requires payment in blood—there is a heroism inherent to peace and stability—the challenge to squeeze every possibility out of life.”

A luminously written, always insightful account of one woman’s encounter with personal and political liberation. (8 pp. photos, not seen)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-40370-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 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