CHILD OF WAR, WOMAN OF PEACE

Displaying the same resilience that made her memoir of growing up in war-torn Vietnam (When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, 1989) so stunning, Hayslip now writes with equal frankness—and with the help of her eldest son—about her new life in the US. Arriving in California from Vietnam with her two sons and an elderly American husband, Ed, Hayslip found America to be a bewildering place: a world where the ``skills needed to survive in the jungles and corrupt back alleys no longer counted''; a world ``without ancestors, without cause and effect''; a world that for many Vietnamese was ``the land of the enemy.'' How Hayslip coped with these inevitable cultural clashes is the overriding theme here. The author's deep Buddhist faith proved a great source of strength and the one constant solace as Hayslip, despite her unwavering energy, courage, and optimism, proved often dangerously naive in her love and business affairs. While married to Ed, she had an affair with Dan, an American officer; when Ed died, she married Dennis, a divorcÇ with whom she had a third son, only to discover that Dennis was unstable and abusive. Dennis's accidental death freed Hayslip, but the pattern repeated itself—including through a disastrous reunion with Dan—and, although Hayslip prospered, using hard work as well as money from her husbands' insurance policies to buy houses, stocks, and a restaurant, she admits to being a sucker for con men. On her spiritual advisers' advice, she now devotes herself to healing the wounds of war, partly through her East Meets West Foundation. Today, in her 40s, Hayslip rejoices that she has fulfilled ``one dream.'' Inevitably less harrowing than Hayslip's first book, but no less compelling as the author offers a refreshingly honest look at both herself and Americans as she seeks reconciliation between her old and new homes.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-42111-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1992

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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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Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

THE WAY I HEARD IT

Former Dirty Jobs star Rowe serves up a few dozen brief human-interest stories.

Building on his popular podcast, the author “tells some true stories you probably don’t know, about some famous people you probably do.” Some of those stories, he allows, have been subject to correction, just as on his TV show he was “corrected on windmills and oil derricks, coal mines and construction sites, frack tanks, pig farms, slime lines, and lumber mills.” Still, it’s clear that he takes pains to get things right even if he’s not above a few too-obvious groaners, writing about erections (of skyscrapers, that is, and, less elegantly, of pigs) here and Joan Rivers (“the Bonnie Parker of comedy”) there, working the likes of Bob Dylan, William Randolph Hearst, and John Wayne into the discourse. The most charming pieces play on Rowe’s own foibles. In one, he writes of having taken a soft job as a “caretaker”—in quotes—of a country estate with few clear lines of responsibility save, as he reveals, humoring the resident ghost. As the author notes on his website, being a TV host gave him great skills in “talking for long periods without saying anything of substance,” and some of his stories are more filler than compelling narrative. In others, though, he digs deeper, as when he writes of Jason Everman, a rock guitarist who walked away from two spectacularly successful bands (Nirvana and Soundgarden) in order to serve as a special forces operative: “If you thought that Pete Best blew his chance with the Beatles, consider this: the first band Jason bungled sold 30 million records in a single year.” Speaking of rock stars, Rowe does a good job with the oft-repeated matter of Charlie Manson’s brief career as a songwriter: “No one can say if having his song stolen by the Beach Boys pushed Charlie over the edge,” writes the author, but it can’t have helped.

Never especially challenging or provocative but pleasant enough light reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982130-85-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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