A gripping account that takes readers from Nazi concentration camps to Wall Street boardrooms.



A biography traces the odyssey of a Holocaust survivor who became a CEO.

Holocaust scholar and filmmaker Greene, whose acclaimed work includes the book Witness (2001), offers readers the extraordinary story of Siggi B. Wilzig. Born in Prussia’s contested Polish Corridor in 1926, Wilzig began his lifelong battle with antisemitism as a 6-year-old child when he was held headfirst over a meat grinder by a local farmer who threatened to make “chopped Jew meat.” By his 19th birthday, “nearly dead from exhaustion, malnutrition, and pneumonia,” Wilzig was among the few survivors of the Auschwitz-Birkenau and Mauthausen concentration camps. While the first third of the volume recounts the gruesome, brutal details of the horrors Wilzig confronted during the 1930s and ’40s, the rest tells the Horatio Alger story of his postwar immigration to the United States. With nothing more than a grammar school education, Wilzig found a job shoveling snow from a New York City sidewalk. The work shows how he eventually forged a multibillion-dollar oil and commercial banking empire. As president, chairman, and CEO of the Wilshire Oil Company of Texas and the Trust Company of New Jersey, he continued to face anti-Jewish sentiment “in two of postwar America’s most antisemitic industries.” Greene’s concise, approachable narrative successfully brings Wilzig’s “volcano” of a personality and “inspired voice” to the fore. The author recounts the entrepreneur’s interactions with presidents, celebrities, and CEOs and presents anecdotes of his business prowess and tenacity. Wilzig was, for instance, “the first person in history to sue the Federal Reserve.” In addition to chronicling his Wall Street acumen, the book relates Wilzig’s fight against Holocaust deniers, including his role in establishing the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, a further testimony to his legacy. This well-researched biography is largely based on original interviews with Wilzig’s business partners, rivals, and contemporaries (including his longtime chauffer), which—supplemented with ample family photographs—help provide an intimate portrait of a complex man. Like many rags-to-riches tales, the work leans heavily toward hagiography, though this may indeed be difficult to avoid given Wilzig’s remarkable life.

A gripping account that takes readers from Nazi concentration camps to Wall Street boardrooms.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64-722215-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Insight Editions

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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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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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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