THE LAST SELECTION

A CHILD'S JOURNEY THROUGH THE HOLOCAUST

Kalib was born in 1931, the beloved youngest child of a wealthy, large, and close-knit family in Bodzentyn, a town of 4000, including 1400 Jews, near Cracow, Poland. She is neither a poet nor a theologian. The form in which her husband and a colleague have helped her recast her reminiscences is straightforward, even plodding at times. But from the accretion of details emerges a picture with fresh power to shock and disturb. No novelist could invent the German policeman who shot Jews for sport, photographed them as corpses, and then buried them in a sort of private cemetery for his trophies. Even more upsetting than the account of barbarism is the story of Jewish attempts to survive and carry on in a human way: hiding textbooks under flowerpots because by October 1939 Jewish children were forbidden to study; sneaking past Auschwitz guards in 1944 to keep in touch with family members. The youth and vitality that helped the author survive illuminate the horrors she went through with primary colors. Her father's wealth and resourcefulness protected the family for a time. In 1942, as the Germans were rounding up the Jews in nearby villages, Kalib was sent into hiding with a Polish landowner and her communist nephew. She paints a moving portrait of this woman, compassionate and courageous but, like many Poles, so anti-Semitic- -with Church encouragement—that she saw what was happening to her Jewish neighbors as punishment for their murdering Christ. Later, Kalib joined the rest of her family in a labor camp. In 1944, they were shipped to Auschwitz. In 1945, the survivors went on a death march to Bergen-Belsen. Anne Frank had gone that same way. Kalib's child's-eye view of Auschwitz's maniacal orderliness and the world's-end chaos of Bergen-Belsen makes a useful complement to the famous diary. At a time when revisionists are running ads in college newspapers claiming the Holocaust is a hoax, this affecting memoir should go into every high-school and college library.

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-87023-758-6

Page Count: 328

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1992

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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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