A sometimes-slow tale of remarkable perseverance and devotion that elicits anger and admiration.

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A WHIFF OF PENNYROYAL

A SOUTHERN WOMAN'S STORY

Written by Patti Rust in the late 1970s, and recently edited and rewritten by her daughter-in-law, Karilyn Rust, this debut memoir recounts the passionate love story of two damaged souls—one emotionally crippled by circumstance, the other plagued by mental illness.

In October 1919, Patti, 4 years old, was sent to live with the wealthy O’Neill family in Rome, Georgia. Her poverty-stricken, widowed mother had been cajoled into allowing the O’Neills to raise Joy as their own daughter. They changed her name to Patti and instructed her never to admit that she was adopted. Her new father was kind, but Rosa O’Neill was an unloving tyrant, cruel in words and deeds. Patti was given all the upper-class advantages, but Rosa always reminded her that she came from “poor white trash.” During the summer of her freshman year in college, Patti met Harry Rust, from Birmingham, Alabama, and it was as if they instantly completed one another. Two years of inconsistent courtship led to their wedding in 1936. What wasn’t understood at the time was that Harry suffered from undiagnosed bipolar disorder. He was brilliantly creative and adored Patti but was given to fits of despair, hypochondria, selfishness, hours of weeping, and, in later years, violent rages. Patti stood by him through 24 years of marriage until his death at 47, most likely by suicide. The smoothly flowing narrative, as revised by Karilyn to read “more like a novel,” contains extensive dialogue that probably reflects tone and content rather than actual duplication of conversations. Patti’s anger toward Rosa and compassion for Harry ring clear with authentic feeling. Long passages devoted to Harry’s “episodes” and detailed descriptions of every aspect of the ever expanding house they built, the meals served, and the clothing worn grow tedious, but they do offer a visceral image of a privileged, albeit dysfunctional, life in the mid-20th-century deep South. There is also a scathing indictment of the woefully inadequate psychiatric treatment Harry received.

A sometimes-slow tale of remarkable perseverance and devotion that elicits anger and admiration.

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-365-75649-8

Page Count: 508

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2017

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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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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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