Although it takes some time to get to know him, the author eventually reveals himself to be even more intriguing than his...

Burn Zones

PLAYING LIFE'S BAD HANDS

A riches-to-rags memoir that offers unique perspectives on business, punk rock, inequality, cycling, and family.

Debut author Newbery has held a surprising assortment of titles throughout his life: a lending mogul, the No. 1 Housing and Urban Development broker in the country, a professional cyclist, a leader in the Occupy Wall Street movement, a ruined businessman, and a key figure in LA’s gritty, early punk scene. As he tells it, each new venture seemed logical, because he always remained the same—a socially awkward but resilient entrepreneur who was committed to what was before him. His incredible work ethic led to success in everything he tried, until he began to buy and revamp some of the most blighted, dangerous properties in the country. What started as challenging work evolved into genuine efforts to improve the lives of those in poor minority communities. Unfortunately, infuriating bureaucracy and insurance companies led to his downfall and crippling debt. In an intriguing twist, the Great Recession of 2008 provided him a path forward when he dedicated himself to helping people who could no longer afford their mortgages. As one might expect with someone so successful, Newbery puts business first, dedicating most of the first half of his story to meticulous overviews of his business dealings, athletic accomplishments, and a particular property that incurred the most debt. His intense focus on these subjects, interesting as they are, leaves readers with little personal information about the author himself or his motivations. However, when he expands on some events in more detail (and in a first-person perspective), he proves to be an observant, witty storyteller. For example, his stories of failed social interactions, as with a group of women who tried to make him dance, have perfect timing and are laugh-out-loud funny. As he uses this technique more often in the second half, he produces insightful, powerful observations about his family and the most important economic issues of our time.

Although it takes some time to get to know him, the author eventually reveals himself to be even more intriguing than his fascinating career.

Pub Date: June 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-61961-320-1

Page Count: 242

Publisher: Community Books

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2015

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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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