A touching portrait of a complex and tortured soul, written by his brother. Abbie Hoffman, one of the best-known radicals of the 1960s, kept in almost daily contact with his kid brother, Jack, even during his days of hiding as a fugitive. With the help of Four Walls Eight Windows copublisher Simon, Jack now chronicles their relationship and his brother's life. From humble Russian-Jewish origins, they were the sons of a long-suffering father, whom they compared to Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman, and a mother best described as eccentric. Experimenting with drugs and gradually becoming politicized, Abbie joined SNCC in 1964 and helped raise funds for their Freedom Summer efforts. Later he founded the Youth International Party (the Yippies) with Jerry Rubin and organized the protests against the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. He established himself as the clown prince of the counterculture, writing Revolution for the Hell of It and Steal This Book. The humor with which he approached the Chicago 7 conspiracy trial and his appearance before HUAC is vividly depicted. His continuing drug use and experimentation led to his arrest in 1973 on cocaine charges. Abbie went underground for almost seven years. Hiding first in Mexico, he later returned to the US, living in upstate New York under the alias Barry Freed. Unable to stay out of politics, he became a noted environmental activist. He also battled manic-depression. In 1980, he reemerged and surrendered to authorities; after about a year in prison, he was paroled. He became increasingly depressed, however, and drugs and alcohol only compounded the problem. He took his own life in 1989. These events are well known, and Jack Hoffman is curiously removed from the story he tells. He elaborates little, if at all, on how it felt to be the younger brother of such a notorious figure, as if he were still content to remain in Abbie's lingering shadow. Nevertheless, this is the forceful story of an American original.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 1994

ISBN: 0-87477-760-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: TarcherPerigee

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1994

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 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...


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?