THE GREEN PARADISE

VOL. I OF AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

More confessional than chronicle, this first volume of the noted expatriate writer's autobiography candidly records the responses of an intense sensibility to a growing self. Writing ``to rediscover the driving force which dominated my life,'' Green (Paris, 1991, etc.) examines his first 16 years— which from the onslaught of adolescence were to be dominated by the tension between his emerging homosexuality and his deeply felt religious convictions. Born in 1900, Green was the youngest child of an American family living in Paris. Their home—though they moved through a series of lodgings whose varying quality reflected changing family fortunes—was an oasis of southern American culture and sentiment, with the South's defeat in the Civil War a persistent source of family identity. Green's earliest memories are of himself as a dreamy child who enjoyed reading and drawing, and whose great happiness was mixed with vivid fears prompted by an overly sensitive imagination that conjured up a world populated as much by lurking demons as by benevolent angels. Green's mother, a religious woman of strong emotions whom the author thinks loved him too much, impressed on the boy the need to be ``pure''—an admonition that, as Green entered adolescence, created intense moral dilemmas, pitting his sexual innocence against his attraction to other boys. This parent died in 1914, during the early days of WW I, an event that created a ``dreadful solitude'' in Green's life and probably accelerated his conversion to Roman Catholicism at age 16. The volume ends as the author, 17, prepares to become an ambulance driver at the front because his father says that it's ``time to think of doing something for the common cause.'' Though perhaps Green examines his life too strenuously, his honesty and palpable faith make this a moving account of what he calls ``God's progression in the human heart.''

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 1992

ISBN: 0-7145-2955-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Marion Boyars

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 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 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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