A straightforward account of a life focused on karate.

MY LIFE IN THE ART OF SHORIN RYU MATSUBAYASHI RYU KARATE

A debut memoir recounts a man’s ascent through the ranks of karate, from white belt to Hall of Fame black belt. 

Born and raised in Miami, the author initially became interested in karate through the films of Bruce Lee. In the early 1980s, after being assaulted by some older boys, the 14-year-old Ferguson decided to learn self-defense and chose karate. Though initially shy and reserved, he grew more confident in his classes, and he began to rise in the ranks, earning his third belt—the green belt—within nine months. The author clearly describes the various tests he had to complete to gain his belts as well as the sense of community that was fostered by his teachers, Hanshi Moises and Sensei Benny Colon. They not only brought their students to compete in tournaments, but also regularly treated them to camping trips or cookouts. Besides acquiring considerable physical skills, Ferguson writes that he also gained another family. After four years of training, he received his black belt, becoming the first to ever reach that rank under Moises and Colon. Ferguson then left Miami after eight years of training, and no matter where he moved—first to Savannah, Georgia; then Jacksonville; and finally back to Miami—he remained involved in the karate community and even opened his own dojo in Savannah. In 2017, after nearly 40 years in the discipline, he was enshrined into the United States Black Belt Hall of Fame. In his book, which features black-and-white photographs of the author and other karate practitioners, Ferguson’s prose is very matter-of-fact and rarely reflective. While his achievements are impressive, readers are not always given much insight into what they meant to the author at the time, and what they signify to him now. The writing is most engaging when Ferguson discusses his mentors and the teachers who have helped him along the way; the compelling passages are filled with reverence and love for this circle. But the author occasionally gets bogged down in terminology and minutiae that will likely leave karate neophytes confused, and the sections about his teaching style lack specific examples.

A straightforward account of a life focused on karate.

Pub Date: March 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5043-9481-9

Page Count: 108

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2018

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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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