A true rags-to-riches story told with fervor and variety.

JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES

MY STORY

The 25-year-old Chinese piano prodigy chronicles his coming of age.

Lang was born in Shenyang to parents whose musical ambitions were thwarted by the Cultural Revolution, which suffocated all intellectual and artistic pursuits. He could read musical notes before he could read letters and willingly accepted the pressure from his parents to be “Number One”; he understood that, like other members of the one-child generation, he “carried the burdens and blessings of their hopes and dreams.” Having won his city’s ten-and-under piano competition at age five, Lang moved to Beijing with his father, their sights set on the city’s prestigious conservatory. His mother stayed behind to earn the family’s meager living, and Lang acutely felt the years-long separation. When his new teacher declared he had no talent, his father suffered a frenzied breakdown, shouting that Lang should kill himself rather than live with the shame of not making good on his family’s sacrifices. Four months of boycotting the piano and giving his father the silent treatment ensued before the boy agreed to practice again. He placed first among 3,000 at the conservatory’s audition and went on to win international competitions in Germany and Japan. At 14, he received a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, where he adjusted to the American system favoring performances over competitions, and embraced U.S. teens’ freedom. Two years later, he caught his big break in a brilliant substitute performance with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. A standing ovation in St. Petersburg, a debut at Carnegie Hall and a bestselling recording with Daniel Barenboim followed. The prose crafted with veteran co-author Ritz (Grace After Midnight, 2007, etc.) lacks the sophistication of Lang’s playing, but it gratefully highlights his parents’ devotion and communicates his joy while performing.

A true rags-to-riches story told with fervor and variety.

Pub Date: July 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-385-52456-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2008

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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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