LOOKING FOR TROUBLE

ONE WOMAN, SIX WARS, AND A REVOLUTION

A slightly better blend of Scoop and Dispatches than many memoirs by foreign correspondents. While in graduate school, and drawn by the idea of travel and adventure, Cockburn (Dangerous Liaison, 1991, etc.), now a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, joined the international bureau of NBC News. Still in her early 20s, it wasn't long before she was up to her neck in wars and disasters. Television news, especially international reporting, was still a macho fraternity, and Cockburn found herself in the uncomfortable but inspiriting role of pioneer. From Cambodia to Afghanistan, from Somalia to the Gulf War, usually behind the camera in the essential but undervalued role of producer, she has covered some of the last two decades' hottest spots. Along the way, she won a shelfful of prestigious awards and found time to have three children without most of the compromises faced by working women. For example, six months pregnant, she descended into the maelstrom of Somalia, her expanded stomach covered by an extra-large bullet-proof vest (until she discovered that Somali gunmen made a sport of testing the vests by deliberately shooting at their wearers). Cockburn never stayed very long in one place, jumping from story to story, six weeks here, a month there, just enough time to dig up a few scoops, work a new angle on an old story, and set up interviews and camera angles for the dancing-bear correspondent from New York who'd fly in for a few days to front her hard work. Because she's never in one place long enough to appreciate its true intricacies and shadings, much of her reportage here feels like intelligent tourism. She also has an off-putting flair for self-dramatization, making the moments of real danger seem oddly flat. Though the book is well crafted and full of incident, very little of it lingers long in memory. (Author tour)

Pub Date: March 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-48319-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Anchor

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1998

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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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