An irreverent and unsettling footnote to the war on terror.

DOING TIME LIKE A SPY

HOW THE CIA TAUGHT ME TO SURVIVE AND THRIVE IN PRISON

A maverick spy’s season in prison.

Kiriakou (The Reluctant Spy: My Secret Life in the CIA’s War on Terror, 2010) writes that whistleblowing the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program ended his career and led to his prosecution for inadvertently violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act: “I took a plea to one count,” he writes. “I didn’t fear prison. I was tougher than the CIA thought I was.” Still, he was surprised to find that “the training and experience that I had amassed in my CIA career would prepare me to survive and thrive in prison.” Kiriakou references 20 famous espionage “rules”—e.g., “admit nothing, deny everything, make counteraccusations”—as being particularly suited to incarceration, given that “prison is a combination of seventh grade, Lord of the Flies, and a mental institution.” The author had expected to serve about two years in a federal work camp, but he was placed in a low-security prison. Although Kiriakou’s burly physique and black-ops reputation protected him, he still found prison’s brutal, unwritten social codes to be challenging: “There were many more weirdos, lunatics, and freaks than there were good guys.” He notes that due to persistent segregation, he spent a year dining with the self-proclaimed “Aryans” before being invited to join the “Italians” (organized crime members). While Kiriakou speaks highly of a few helpful friends, he is disparaging of most of the people he encountered behind bars, particularly the high population of pedophiles (scorned by all other inmates) and the guards. “There were certainly some COs I respected,” he writes. “The sad truth, however, is that most COs are assholes.” Kiriakou confidently portrays himself as a larger-than-life survivor type, justifiably proud of his stance against CIA–sanctioned torture, but the book suffers from being overly cranky and exceedingly anecdotal.

An irreverent and unsettling footnote to the war on terror.

Pub Date: June 16, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-945572-41-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Vireo/Rare Bird Books

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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