A courageous, immensely rewarding chronicle expressed in arresting words and pictures.

DOUBLE TAKE

A MEMOIR

An X Games competitive skier and photographer recounts an extraordinary life spent overcoming immense physical limitations.

Connolly was born without legs in the summer of 1985, in Helena, Mont., after his mother endured a lengthy, difficult labor. His condition is known as Bilateral Amelia of the lower extremities and, without artificial limbs, the author would live his life at 3’1” tall. The family made the best of the tragic situation by using humor to mask hardship or disappointment, but it was Connolly’s father, a tough man with a feathered mullet, who snapped into action and became inspired by the innovative inventions featured on the TV series MacGyver. With varying degrees of success and usefulness, he outfitted everything from handrails to toilet seats in an effort to accommodate his son. The dark side of living with a disability seeps through as Connolly describes the eagle-eyed scrutiny of cruel children, the unmanageability of prosthetics in grade school (“a pair of glorified, flesh-colored stilts wasn’t the solution”) and, wheelchair-bound, his daring (if unsuccessful) courtship of one of his classmates. Determined attempts at wrestling proved fruitless yet paved the way for major victories racing on a mono-ski atop Montana’s Bridger Bowl under the watchful eye of his proud father. Not wanting to “hold anyone else up,” Connolly spent school breaks traveling solo throughout Europe strapped to a skateboard, reuniting with kindhearted folks like Serge, an Internet friend living in the Ukraine. As powerful as his memoir reads, it is Connolly’s photographs—featured at the beginning of each chapter and on his website—of people’s reactions to him that provide a striking visual punch. By the end of his European vacation, he’d taken more than 900 “empowering,” “therapeutic” images, which today total more than 30,000. Embarking on both a stint at the X Games and a photographic project called “The Rolling Exhibition”—it has since been featured at The Smithsonian—the fearless author continues to persevere and seeks to motivate others.

A courageous, immensely rewarding chronicle expressed in arresting words and pictures.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-179153-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: HarperStudio

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2009

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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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