Deserves a place in the upper ranks of Vietnam War memoirs.

HOSTAGE OF PARADOX

A QUALMISH DISCLOSURE

A former Green Beret sergeant recalls at length and in vivid language how he survived the Vietnam War against heavy odds.

Moore begins by lamenting that the “words of power” he could use to try to describe the “fundamentally non-transferable experience” of war have been “squandered on the commonplace,” and so, they cannot suffice to describe the dread and horror of Vietnam. Nonetheless, he then uses those words—as well as many others usually only found in vocabulary tests—to record a deeply personal, often minutely detailed account of his war experience as a clandestine operative. In a splendid narrative effort, worthy of the more than 500 pages he devotes to it, he defies the disclaimer and comes convincingly close to conveying what it was like be under attack or to move as soundlessly as possible through sweltering jungles on missions where discovery meant death. Moore writes that he was 25 when he arrived in Vietnam in 1968 and spent most of his tour at a Special Forces camp near Da Nang as a member of the 5th Special Forces Group. A highly trained member of a military elite but a somewhat reluctant warrior, he made survival for himself and his outfit his first priority. Once past the puzzling title, believing—independent of enjoying—the story depends on a reader’s acceptance that a faithful account can exist more than four decades after it happened. In this regard, there’s room to wonder if anyone could recall events at this remove with such excruciating exactness. Moore’s powers of observation seem least keen when turned to character development. In addition to its predilection for uncommon diction—a sound is described as “unworldly, chimeric, like the wheezing cry of something broken through a mis-weave in weft of living things”—the writing style tends to take on a florid tone that can get in the way of easy reading.

Deserves a place in the upper ranks of Vietnam War memoirs.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2012

ISBN: 978-1936332373

Page Count: 505

Publisher: Bettie Youngs Book Publishers

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2013

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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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