Short chapters offer an inside, but hardly definitive, look at a very troubled man.

THE TRUTH ABOUT AARON

MY JOURNEY TO UNDERSTAND MY BROTHER

Was Aaron Hernandez a monster, a mystery, or a little of both?

Shortly after signing a contract worth more than $40 million, the NFL star was convicted of the murder of a friend and subsequently acquitted of a dual murder that was alleged to have started with a spilled drink. He then hanged himself in his prison cell. As the author, writing with Athletic contributing writer Anderson, straightforwardly recounts the lives they shared, he recognizes the warning signs that weren’t apparent at the time: the blows to the head and childhood concussions, the stern discipline by their homophobic father, the blackouts that seemed to flip a switch in Aaron’s psyche, their father’s death and their mother’s behavior that tore the family apart, and the unsavory characters who became Aaron’s friends. The murder that landed him in prison came as a shock but not exactly a surprise, though the author never explains a motive or even the nature of the relationship between Aaron and the man he killed. One of the mysteries came to light while Hernandez was in prison: He was gay, he told his mother, and had been since he was forced to perform oral sex on an older boy when he was a child. He had struggled with his sexuality ever since. In his shame, he repressed it and denied it, but it was an essential part of who he was, and he raged against it. Another mystery didn’t reveal itself until after his suicide: Doctors examined his brain and found that, as the result of multiple concussions, “Aaron suffered the most severe case of CTE ever discovered in a person his age…[in] a brain area critical to decision-making, judgment, and cognition.” The diagnosis helped explain the sudden shifts of mood, paranoia, and violent outbursts, some of which had been obvious long before he went to prison. Maybe such impulses could have been contained, or treated, if only someone had recognized the warning signs.

Short chapters offer an inside, but hardly definitive, look at a very troubled man.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-287271-5

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more