A valuable addition to ground-level history, caught with a keen eye even while Maleck was ducking his head.

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WHAT AM I DOING HERE?

TRUE ADVENTURES WHILE SURVIVING 1172 DAYS IN THE U.S. ARMY DURING WWII

Maleck presents a lively, chromatic memoir of his days as a medic in the European theater of WWII.

In these reminiscences, Maleck tries hard to be a regular Joe, just another guy doing his bit for the war effort. His writing can be willfully unvarnished—“I actually ‘conked’ out and fell into one of our chests and fell asleep, and nobody gave a ‘damn’!”—and there are grating stylistic tics (such as using “that” for “who”), but these quirks don’t diminish his thoughtfulness and talent to recall frontline events in all their wicked immediacy. Here is a man who landed in France shortly after D-Day and engaged in the bitterest of combat—think of the freezing, murderous misery of the Battle of the Bulge—as a medic, moving from body to body, trying to keep infantrymen alive after they had been physically and mentally shredded. He was unarmed, as was the case with medics; his armband was supposed to protect him, but often served as a target. That kept him bright and alert, making him especially alive to circumstance—not just the fighting, but the lay of the land, the weather, what the brass hoped to achieve at any given moment, the full picture of what was before him. His memory has kept that keenness and re-creates it here in the close combat (“room to room fighting, pistols, bayonets, fists”), the blazing towns his company passed through in Belgium, the absurdly close calls that, one micrometer this way or that, would have ended his life. And in the best tradition of the survivor, he has a sense of humor,  if of the blackest sort—“Though we called them ‘foxholes,’ each time you entered or left it, the similarity of your handiwork and what a gravedigger is hired to do is very noteworthy.” As this book is an ongoing memoir project, Maleck has included a sweet tribute to a family dog, a terrier-whippet mix known as Speed—affectionate watchdog-companion-hunter—which amplifies Maleck’s warmth of humanity and spirit.

A valuable addition to ground-level history, caught with a keen eye even while Maleck was ducking his head.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2009

ISBN: 978-1438979076

Page Count: 292

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2011

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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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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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