A puzzle. (8-page b&w photo insert, not seen)



An uneven memoir by the mother of Amadou Diallo, the young man who, in 1999, was shot 41 times by New York City police officers outside his apartment building.

Kadiatou Diallo was born in 1959 in Guinea. Although her family was Muslim, she was allowed to go to school and to study the Koran. At age 13, she was married to Saikou Diallo, a 29-year-old entrepreneur/trader, who already had one wife. They moved to Liberia, and, at 16, Kadiatou had her first child, a son she named Amadou. While the marriage experienced rocky moments, Saikou built an impressive import/export business traveling all over Africa, Europe, and Asia. Other children soon followed, and Kadiatou joined Saikou in Togo, then returned to Guinea, finally relocating in Bangkok. The children were educated in private schools, were multilingual, cosmopolitan. By the 1990s, Kadiatou and Saikou had divorced (he had taken a third wife), and she had started her own export business in gems. Amadou decided to study computer science and go to America. The remainder of Amadou’s life is compressed into roughly 40 pages. He takes a job processing computer orders, lives with four other men in a small apartment in the Bronx, and applies for asylum in the US, falsely stating that he’s from Mauritania and escaping persecution. In 1999, Amadou changes jobs to that of street vendor, and after returning home from work one evening, is shot 41 times in his apartment vestibule by undercover police officers. While the title indicates a focus on Amadou, there are so few details composing his life that the reader can’t form a clear picture of him. This is largely about Kadiatou, and yet she, too, remains an enigma. Her motivations are hazy, and the language is often opaque: “Even in the age of advanced untold knowing, I had no idea what was happening.” Not one character is vividly drawn, and the wildly different geographic locations all morph into one.

A puzzle. (8-page b&w photo insert, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-345-45600-9

Page Count: 276

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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 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...


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?