An engrossing view from the trenches of the war on AIDS, by investigative reporter Kwitny (The Crimes of Patriots, 1987, etc.). Kwitny focuses on two combatants—both gay and HIV-negative- -against bureaucracy and the medical establishment: Jim Corti, an L.A. nurse who's become an expert in the underground drug trade, smuggling unproven AIDS drugs into the US; and Martin Delaney, a San Francisco business consultant who's used his negotiating expertise to work for change within the system. The story begins in the mid-1980's with a simple run by Corti to Tijuana for ribavirin, unavailable in the US (although manufactured here) but sold in Mexico. As word and demand spread and as new drugs surface, Corti's travels widen, taking him all over the globe. Meanwhile, the politically savvy Delaney takes a leading role in pressuring the FDA to change its drug-approval regulations and in persuading doctors to participate in community-based research studies to test new drugs. While Corti is busy bribing Chinese factory managers with pornographic videos to get compound Q or is mailing dextran sulfate labeled as ``kettles'' or ``puzzles'' back from Japan, Delaney is at Robert Gallo's National Cancer Institute lab discussing new drugs or at meetings of researchers, regulators, and pharmaceutical manufacturers searching for ways to speed the process of getting new drugs to AIDS sufferers. Kwitny re-creates conversations based largely on the recollections of Corti and Delaney, with corroboration from other participants when possible. Differing versions of particular events are given in end-of-book notes. An up-close and affecting account. For a broader view of the work of AIDS activists, see Peter S. Arno and Karyn L. Feiden's Against the Odds (p. 363).

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-671-73244-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1992

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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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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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