Patterson’s voice is fresh, witty, and intelligent—and he could get by with a little less help from his friends.

THE WATER IN BETWEEN

A JOURNEY AT SEA

A Canadian physician debuts with an emotional but sometimes pedantic memoir of his adventures traversing the Pacific in a 37-foot sailboat.

In August 1994, Patterson, “absorbed in self-pity” occasioned by an unhappy love affair, purchased a vessel called the Sea Mouse in British Columbia. Just 29 and recently discharged from the Canadian army, Patterson (who had no previous sailing experience) impulsively set sail for Tahiti—a longtime dream—in company with a onetime sheet-metal worker named Don (a more experienced sailor), whom he’d only recently met. In 18 swift chapters, Patterson tells of his preparations to sail, of his sometimes terrifying experiences on an unforgiving ocean, of his brief sojourns ashore in Hawaii, Palmyra, Penrhyn, and, finally, Tahiti. He then flies back to Canada to earn money to finance his return voyage. During this working hiatus, he impulsively (again!) invites three new acquaintances (one a lovely woman with whom he develops a tenuous romantic attachment) to go to Tahiti and sail back with him. These folks make it only as far as Hawaii, where they elect to fly home, and Patterson makes the final passage alone. His safe arrival ends his book. Patterson’s strong narrative is most effective in its self-deprecating accounts of his sometimes feckless, sometimes perilous efforts to learn how to sail while sailing. “I’m gonna be okay,” he tells himself, “look at all this lovely rope I have.” His flashbacks to his army service and to his medical experiences in remote Hudson Bay communities are also effective, often moving. His observations, however, sometimes border on the banal: out on the lonely open ocean, he writes, “our minds turned inward.” Sometimes deadly, too, are his long paraphrases of and quotations from works by other seafarers like Bruce Chatwin and Joshua Slocum.

Patterson’s voice is fresh, witty, and intelligent—and he could get by with a little less help from his friends.

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-385-49883-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2000

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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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