A captivating and inspiring immigration story.


In this debut biography, a Vietnamese woman escapes her authoritarian country with her family to become an entrepreneurial success in the United States.

Many years ago, Hieu Vo knew that she couldn’t continue to live in Communist-controlled Vietnam—the government ruled its citizens with fear and relentless indoctrination, and she wanted a better life for her kids. Her husband, Tien, once an aspiring lawyer, was singled out by the government as suspicious and sent to work a menial job outside of Saigon as part of a plan to break his spirit. Hieu’s mother, Thi Ba, organized an escape for Hieu and her family by boat; Thi traded gold on the black market, which was an invaluable commodity after the national currency collapsed, and so she was plugged into the world of illicit exchange. But Hieu and her family were soon captured and sent to languish in prison, and author Driver captures her terrifying experience in unflinching prose: “she watched her children suffering in the environment. They became skinnier and skinnier, weaker and weaker. Khoa and Gialai grew so weak, they even lost their desire to be children.” After the family was finally released, Hieu immediately began planning a second escape attempt while waiting for her malnourished children’s strength to return. They finally made it by boat to Hong Kong, and then to America, where Hieu was known as “Charlie” and trained to become a manicurist. She eventually opened her own shop, ManTrap, which became a successful chain. Driver’s engrossing biography relates a remarkable series of accomplishments, conveying them in cinematically dramatic terms and highlighting Hieu’s indomitable spirit. Along the way, she deftly shares the history of the manicure industry, as well, showing how it became a support system for many Asian refugees and sometimes dealt with raids by government inspectors. Overall, Driver’s account is affecting and instructive throughout.

A captivating and inspiring immigration story.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63152-626-8

Page Count: 203

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2019

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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 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...


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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