Reads more often like a lecture than a graphic novel.

MACEDONIA

This illustrated peace polemic and lesson in international relations is often educational but only occasionally engaging.

The unusual collaboration teams Roberson, formerly a peace-studies major at Berkeley, with artist Piskor and writer Pekar, who established his reputation through graphic memoir (and whose American Splendor series inspired the well-received film). More recently, Pekar has been telling stories other than his (Ego and Hubris, 2006, etc.), and here he recounts a student research trip taken by Roberson to discover how Macedonia was able to avoid the civil war and ethnic cleansing that had beset so much of what was formerly Yugoslavia. The challenge is to convey the complexities of the situation in graphic form, which amounts to large stretches of Roberson engaging in debate or explanatory dialogue. In the first part, a boyfriend seems there only to serve as a sounding board, allowing Roberson to expound on the history of the Balkans and the peacekeeping efforts in Macedonia. After Roberson decides to go on a quixotic mission to Macedonia for thesis research, the boyfriend drops out of the picture, without explanation. Her travel adventures make for livelier reading, as she becomes frustrated with men hitting on her and a hotel clerk trying to cheat her, while absorbing as much of the culture as she can, forging strong friendships and learning how Macedonia has been able to avoid the fate of its neighbors. The narrative doesn’t whitewash the situation. The Macedonians aren’t necessarily more noble than anyone else, and the ethnic tensions with Albanians threaten the same sort of strife as has torn neighboring Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Yet the Macedonians have remained committed to war prevention, rather than using the threat of war as a means of sustaining peace. Though there’s a lot of personality in Piskor’s illustrations, a picture plainly isn’t worth a thousand words in this text-heavy work (that ends with an all-text epilogue, presumably written by Roberson).

Reads more often like a lecture than a graphic novel.

Pub Date: June 26, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-345-49899-1

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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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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