Readers won’t accuse the author of sugarcoating her experiences, and if the narrative sometimes seems to bog down in...

THE YELLOW ENVELOPE

ONE GIFT, THREE RULES, AND A LIFE-CHANGING JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD

In 2012, sick of her job and uncertain about her marriage, Dinan (Life on Fire: A Step-By-Step Guide to Living Your Dreams, 2013, etc.) quit work and persuaded her reluctant husband to sell their house and other belongings and take off for more than two years to travel around the world.

Along with them went the envelope of the title, which contained $1,000 handed to them by Dinan’s former boss, with the instruction that the money was to be given away during the trip. She attached three provisos: “Don’t over think it”; “Share your experiences (…if you want to)”; and “Don’t feel pressured to give it all away.” The first goal proved easier said than done; the second the author accomplishes in this book. At first waffling about whether she would seem condescending or culturally insensitive, she gradually began to feel comfortable with distributing the cash to a school where they volunteered in Ecuador, a rickshaw driver in India, a dog shelter, a Nepalese holy woman, and the owners of a turtle sanctuary in Bali. If the yellow envelope provides one strand unifying the book, Dinan’s marital troubles form the other. Readers looking for insight into the locales through which the author traveled instead receive sometimes-repetitive descriptions of quarrels in which the author blames her husband for her unhappiness and he refuses to take the blame. The two separated temporarily, with the author climbing “into a rickshaw with two women I’d never met before to drive the length of India on some of the world’s deadliest roads.” Overall, Dinan narrates a memorable adventure even if she spends a good deal of time brooding about her marriage.

Readers won’t accuse the author of sugarcoating her experiences, and if the narrative sometimes seems to bog down in self-analysis, it’s likely an accurate account of her interior life on the road.

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4926-3538-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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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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