An intense, important read for anyone interested in the American government’s misguided efforts at Guantánamo.

WITNESSES OF THE UNSEEN

SEVEN YEARS IN GUANTÁNAMO

Two former detainees of the Guantánamo Bay detention camp come forward with their stories after being declared innocent and freed.

After seven years in prison with no charges, Boumediene and Idir finally won the right to challenge their imprisonment in court, and they won. While they were never able to see the classified evidence against them, their lawyers successfully argued that their imprisonment was unconstitutional. In 2001, the two men had been arrested in Bosnia on suspicion of bombing the American Embassy; as they were released, American soldiers, with the permission of the Bosnian government, seized the men and took them to Cuba. This no-frills account of their time in Guantánamo is disturbing, as the authors detail their mistreatment at the hands of prison guards and interrogators and how they were held in outdoor cages as the prison was built around them. Readers will be shocked by the lack of evidence against the men and how the tenuous ties among a group of casual friends fueled the government’s crusade against them. The narrative follows both men in turn, giving each the chance to recount his own unique experience. Kept mostly in separate areas of the detention center, they crossed paths occasionally; throughout, their different accounts of the same events don’t feel repetitive. Other than an introduction and some additional material about the authors’ cases, the book is entirely made up of the words of Boumediene and Idir, translated in interviews with Norland and List. The prose is straightforward, which is appropriate given the raw power of the story. Through hunger strikes, forced feedings, isolation cells, and countless other tribulations, the authors stayed strong, and their faith in themselves and their families kept them going.

An intense, important read for anyone interested in the American government’s misguided efforts at Guantánamo.

Pub Date: April 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5036-0115-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Redwood Press/Stanford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more