Price’s story is intriguing, but ultimately fails to shed light on a little-understood subject.

THE WOMAN WHO CAN’T FORGET

THE EXTRAORDINARY STORY OF LIVING WITH THE MOST REMARKABLE MEMORY KNOWN TO SCIENCE

Think having near-perfect recall would be a huge asset? The first person ever diagnosed with hyperthymestic syndrome begs to differ.

“Imagine if someone had made videos of you from the time you were a child,” writes Price in a memorable description of what it’s like to recall practically every detail from your life, “and then combined them all onto one DVD, and you sat in a room and watched that DVD on a machine set to shuffle randomly through the tracks…I never know what I might remember next.” She wasn’t afflicted by this “gift” during her childhood in New York and New Jersey. But when her father was offered a promotion from talent agent to TV executive and moved the family to California in the fall of 1974, eight-year-old Price’s mind began to fill up with memories of every minute in her past. After February 5, 1980, she states, she had perfect recall. This endlessly distracting ability caused her to become a pack rat with possessions and obsessive-compulsive about recording her experiences (the total number of pages in her journals tops 50,000). In 2000, Price connected with Dr. James L. McGaugh, professor emeritus at the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine, who began to study her heretofore unknown but quite real condition. Price has a knack for vividly rendering childhood memories like scenes from an impressionistic film. The chronicle of her adult life, unfortunately, is told in stiff, repetitive prose that leaches out much of her story’s impact. The memoir’s effectiveness as a personal document is further muffled by a large amount of material on memory research presented in an overly general fashion.

Price’s story is intriguing, but ultimately fails to shed light on a little-understood subject.

Pub Date: May 6, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4165-6176-7

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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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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