A touching epistolary record.

A REAL WHOLE LOT

A writer shares a collection of letters from a lonely black American soldier to his wife during World War II.

After both her parents died, debut author Kane found a stash of more than 200 letters exchanged between her father and mother from 1943 to 1945, a stretch of time during which they were separated by war. Phil Kane enlisted in the Army in 1941—the same year he wed Jacqueline Jones—and as a result, the two were largely apart for the first four years of their marriage. Phil, “Happy Feet” as his family affectionately called him, adored his wife and struggled with solitude in her absence, a sentiment he earnestly recorded often in his letters and in a poem he wrote for “Jack.” The bulk of the epistolary exchange cataloged in the book is Phil’s letters to Jack as well as some diary entries she made. Phil’s correspondence is unabashedly romantic and swerves from swooning feelings of love and commitment to frequent confessions that he is “lonesome and a little dejected” by the distance between him and his new bride: “Jackie, I know you are wondering why I am writing you as I am, but you see, I am a crazy guy. You know that, don’t you? But as I said before, I am crazy about you! Yes, you, darling.” The author also includes many black-and-white family photographs as well as facsimiles of sentimentally significant documents and newspaper clippings. The sweetly insistent declarations of Phil’s romantic ardor are a pleasure to read and, as a whole, provide a portal into an important historical element of the war: the sacrifices made not only by soldiers, but also by their wives and families. But the letters are more tender than dramatic or deeply introspective and, for the most part, cover the quotidian aspects of daily life: family relations, movies, work, and finances. As a result, the correspondence will mostly interest those familiar with Jack and Phil, especially their descendants. 

A touching epistolary record. 

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5434-5118-4

Page Count: 266

Publisher: XlibrisUS

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2018

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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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