One of those rare memoirs that both teach and make us laugh.

I LOVE A MAN IN UNIFORM

A MEMOIR OF LOVE, WAR, AND OTHER BATTLES

A journalist and ex-stripper marries a career Army officer.

After a chance meeting and whirlwind romance, Burana (Try, 2006, etc.) married Mike, a major in the U.S. Army. Though they were an odd couple—a former exotic dancer who wrote a bestselling book about her adventures (Strip City, 2001) and an all-American hero who devoted his life to the military—Burana willingly joined the sisterhood of women whose husbands serve their country in uniform. She learned what this meant when Mike was deployed to the Middle East as the Iraq War began. She coped with the fear and loneliness that accompany having a loved one in harm’s way. She was awed, and intimidated, by the way other military wives kept home and hearth together. She was confused when Mike returned from duty different. On to West Point, whose arcane rituals and rules, both written and unwritten, Burana describes in hilarious detail. Despite her unorthodox—and what she feared some would see as sordid—past, she found peace among the soldiers and spouses of West Point. Until, following her father’s death, depression hit her like a guided missile. Then the marriage that had sustained her began to suffocate her; the life of an Army spouse that had challenged and bemused, now terrified; and all she wanted was a way out. She left Mike and embarked on a battle to understand the posttraumatic stress that afflicted her and the memories of childhood abuse at the hands of a babysitter that haunted her. Mike learned he could not fix Burana, as was his Army can-do inclination, but could only love her. After many struggles, achingly delineated in beautiful prose, they reconciled and resumed their life at the Academy. Moved by the kindness and understanding other Army wives showed her, Burana determined to repay their kindness. How she did so was appropriately outrageous—and too funny an ending to give away.

One of those rare memoirs that both teach and make us laugh.

Pub Date: April 14, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-60286-083-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Weinstein Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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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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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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