A saccharine, thoroughly lackluster paean to the power of eternal love.

THE VOW

THE TRUE EVENTS THAT INSPIRED THE MOVIE

A husband's vapid memoir about a car crash that left his wife unable to recognize him.

Never underestimate what a star-studded Hollywood movie can do for a poorly written book. Carpenter's account of the 1993 car crash that changed his family’s life was first published in 2000. The recent film retold the story with leads Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. Unfortunately, the actual narrative leaves much to be desired. Carpenter's book opens with the author reminiscing about how he met his wife Krickitt over the telephone. One conversation with her was enough to make him feel like a “nervous, lovesick teenager.” Soon, Carpenter, who lived in New Mexico, was calling Krickitt, who lived in California, almost every day. After a brief Christian courtship, the two decided to marry. But their conjugal bliss was shattered when the newlyweds were involved in a collision that changed everything “in the blink of an eye.” Carpenter escaped with physical injuries that eventually healed, but Krickitt experienced brain trauma that changed her personality and took away all recollection of her husband and their shared past. Carpenter eventually won back his wife by helping her through a long rehabilitation process, but Krickitt never recovered any of her memories of their courtship and marriage. Despite the story’s inherent drama, Carpenter only skims the surface of the underlying emotional tension, and the amateurish writing (“It was as if she decided to be the friendliest, most helpful person her customers talked to every day. If that was the case then she was a roaring success in my mind”) and flat character portraits further hamstring the narrative.

A saccharine, thoroughly lackluster paean to the power of eternal love.

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4336-7579-9

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Broadman & Holman

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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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 MYTH OF SISYPHUS

AND OTHER ESSAYS

This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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