Will haunt readers for days.



Heartbreaking, hard-boiled memoir of the author’s late father, a liar and criminal she loved deeply.

Vogel’s masterful account of their fraught relationship begins with her father’s 1995 funeral, a poor affair in Minneapolis following a police chase that ended with John Vogel shooting himself. He had left Jennifer, her mother, and siblings years earlier in order to pursue his own mercurial path. She grew up poor in Minnesota and Iowa, moving from place to place, often just ahead of the bill collector, wondering where John was. Over the years, he ran a real-estate company, opened a burger joint, probably committed arson, almost murdered somebody for money, robbed banks, and printed nearly 20 million counterfeit dollars. But he could always show up at Jennifer’s doorstep with a smile and a gift and win everybody over with his improbable charm. Behind the smile was the desperation of a man who wanted nothing more than a normal family and a normal life but couldn’t manage the strains of such an existence. So John contented himself by living in the margins, always making the surprise visit, and never fulfilling promises. “Sometimes he tried too hard. Faint panic lurked behind these gay efforts as Dad weighed each individual moment to determine whether he’d won us or lost us.” Jennifer bounced from her mother’s house to living with her father in Seattle to bumming around with West Coast hippies. She then returned to Minnesota, where she ended up as an investigative reporter at City Pages, the Minneapolis alternative weekly. It was a good job for her, providing a useful outlet for the suspicion of cops and all authority bred in her hardscrabble family. Vogel’s memoir benefits from her hard-nosed prose. This account, which could have been limp with sentimentality, skirts the easy route and presents a clear, though hardly unemotional, view of a damaged, complicated man and the loyal, angry, loving daughter he left behind.

Will haunt readers for days.

Pub Date: Feb. 17, 2004

ISBN: 0-7432-1707-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2003

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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 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...


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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