Letters from Galveston


Epistolary testimony to affection and the power of communication.

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A charming collection of heartfelt love letters from the early 1940s.

Rowe’s debut memoir is an epistolary tale of love and history as told through her father-in-law’s devoted letters to one of his sweethearts, Wanda. Starting in January 1942, Ed Rowe dashed a quick word to Wanda detailing the end of his first year in medical school, the reason he was in Galveston, Texas. As Ed made his way through the challenges of medical school, he shared his worries and triumphs with Wanda, who lived in Fairfield, Texas. The letters span a year and include anecdotes from Ed’s classes at medical school, book recommendations, and humorous tidbits about Ed’s roommates. His playfulness is apparent when he cites an account of one young man cutting the hair of another: “The radio was playing some swingy tune, and I don’t know whether the ‘barber’ knew it or not, but his hand in which he had the scissors was keeping time to the music and cutting hair all at once. You can imagine how wavy the other fellow’s hair is now.” His playful nature resurfaces when he says: “I had to stop writing a minute to throw some firecrackers at my roommate while he was in the shower. You should have seen him jump.” Amid Ed’s amusing and carefree writing is the serious undercurrent of oncoming war and registering for service in the Army. His personal story is peppered with references that sing of a different time, chronicling the simplicity of the ’40s. He writes with candor about his anxiety over his exams, his love for his friends, and his wistfulness for Wanda. Taking readers from his first year at medical school to his working in a children’s hospital, the letters eventually reveal his marriage. In a world where letter writing is almost obsolete, the charm of these handwritten notes, reprinted and transposed for the book, speaks of a different era and a lost art. 

Epistolary testimony to affection and the power of communication.

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5035-5724-6

Page Count: 140

Publisher: Xlibris

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015



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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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

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