An enjoyably nostalgic scrapbook stocked full of memories from twins born into a political dynasty.

SISTERS FIRST

STORIES FROM OUR WILD AND WONDERFUL LIFE

Fraternal twins and philanthropists Jenna (Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope, 2007) and Barbara fondly portray the peaks and valleys of life carrying the Bush surname.

Determined to “de-emphasize that there was anything unduly special about being a Bush,” parents George and Laura protectively raised the authors with structure and honor. Jenna, named after her maternal grandmother, was more outspoken, a self-described “boundary pusher,” while Barbara remained thoughtful and pensive. Told in alternating narratives, the book honestly illuminates the experience of being a family member throughout the Bushes’ two generations of political prominence. Both women write vividly and affectionately about their differences and theorize that perhaps it was their “inborn duality” that made it easier for them to tolerate the random public assumptions made about their parents’ yin-and-yang personalities and proclivities. The sisters agree that in many ways, George’s boisterousness and penchant for reading and Laura’s “closet hippie and Rastafarian” ways mirrored Jenna’s melodramatic, emboldened recklessness and Barbara’s careful deliberations on life, love, and family. Both contribute an assortment of personal anecdotes about their time growing up in Midland, Texas, and the family lexicon, which had pet names for everyone. As young members of the Bush clan, each sister reflects on living through the presidencies of their grandfather and father, the tabloid media and general public scrutiny their family endured, details about the Secret Service and White House life (ghost stories included), and how some risky globe-trotting in their teens ultimately freed and matured them. Jenna bemoans her loss of anonymity as a charter school teacher during her father’s term, which placed her in the cross hairs of critical students, and she admits to an imprudent youth. The description of the crushing reality of their grandfather’s descent into Alzheimer’s disease is particularly heartbreaking, but the twins’ sisterly love is evident throughout.

An enjoyably nostalgic scrapbook stocked full of memories from twins born into a political dynasty.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1141-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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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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