A book both educational and emotional.

THE LEAGUE OF WIVES

THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE WOMEN WHO TOOK ON THE U.S. GOVERNMENT TO BRING THEIR HUSBANDS HOME

A Vietnam War story about the mostly unreported role of military wives who ignored protocol to help free their husbands, held as prisoners of war, from torture by the North Vietnamese.

Relying on extensive personal interviews and previously unseen documents, Lee (Winnie Davis: Daughter of the Lost Cause, 2014) builds to February 1973, when 115 American POWs departed North Vietnam on U.S. military transport planes to receive health care, debriefings, and finally emergence into public view. Many of the American airmen never thought they would be shot from the sky, captured, and tortured—partly because of their ultraconfidence in their training, partly because they severely underestimated the fighting capabilities of the North Vietnamese military. Their wives back in the States, many with children, naturally felt desperate to learn the fates of their husbands. However, commanders in the American military services and diplomats in the U.S. State Department told them, often in condescending fashion, to remain quiet and docile so that negotiations with the enemy could proceed. Eventually, after years of excruciating worry, the wives of the prisoners—as well as fliers missing in action—began to actively discuss how to remedy the situation. As more years passed with no progress, wives on bases scattered around the country began organizing together. Lee’s cast of determined women is extensive and occasionally difficult to track as they enter and depart the narrative. Two of the most prominent are Sybil Stockdale (husband Jim) and Jane Denton (husband Jeremiah). (The renowned John McCain does not play a major role in the narrative.) In addition to the wrenching personal stories, the author handles context gracefully, especially regarding the wives and their ability to find their voices amid the continuing saga of an unjust war. “If these military wives hadn’t rejected the ‘keep quiet’ policy and spoken out,” she writes, “the POWs might have been left to languish in prison.”

A book both educational and emotional.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-16110-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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