A raw, troubling inquiry into the deep roots of hatred and the physical and moral starvation that made war inevitable.

GHOST WALTZ

A FAMILY MEMOIR

An Austrian-born woman confronts her family’s past.

Growing up in Austria in the 1950s, Day (writing as Elizabeth O’Neill: Nine and a Half Weeks, 1978) was given textbooks with blank labels glued on the cover, hiding swastikas. No one talked about the war. As a high school exchange student in America, though, Day began to watch—and binge on—war movies, learning for the first time what the world thought about her countrymen. Her parents refused to answer her questions; she learned only that both had been members of the Nazi Party but not why they joined or what role her father, a policeman, played. Right after high school, Day married and moved to America, where she became obsessed with history. After World War I, Austria, she learned, was destitute: “The near-starvation of the last war years and the years after the collapse, the continuing scarcity of food, of coal, of living accommodations, of jobs, life savings melting in the inflation and no improvement in sight. One’s helplessness in the face of it all.” Germany recovered more quickly, to the envy of Austrians, and in both nations, vindictiveness grew. In addition, anti-Semitism was endemic. Day recognized it in herself, a feeling so indelible that she could not imagine how it began. “The legacy of the Holocaust has tarnished me beyond all methods of cleansing,” she writes. “I felt: I hate the guts of every Jew alive.” With a job in publishing, Day knew and befriended many Jews, but she could not deny her revulsion at the German word Jude that, to her, meant “contemptible.” Day died in 2011; this memoir, here reissued in paperback, first appeared in 1980.

A raw, troubling inquiry into the deep roots of hatred and the physical and moral starvation that made war inevitable.

Pub Date: June 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-231000-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 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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