Hewitt’s (Georgia's Great Undertaking, 2014, etc.) insightful family memoir provides a glimpse into the life of a complicated woman.
Maggie Mosteller McLendon lived a full life. She grew up listening to her father’s and grandfather’s stories of the hardships suffered by Southerners during the Civil War and died after witnessing the struggles and victories of the civil rights movement. From her little corner of the world, Maggie observed a great deal of change while clinging to her values and traditions. Author Hewitt was very close with Grandmother Maggie. She spent a good deal of her youth with her grandparents in Thermal, Alabama, a small mining town not far from Birmingham. Hewitt’s memories of baking gingerbread and thumbing through old photo albums portray an enchanting childhood despite the threat of poverty looming in the background. Yet as Linda grows older, she realizes that Maggie is a complicated woman, and she struggles to reconcile her beloved grandmother with a woman who later vehemently blames women and blacks for the troubles of modern society. Hewitt paints a vivid portrait of a strong, intelligent and multifaceted person who is alternately admirable and upsetting. Hewitt’s memoir is an honest study, balancing idyllic childhood memories with a more realistic and clinical look at the past. It’s captivating to get to know Maggie through the eyes of a child, and later, from the viewpoint of an adult. The collapse of a small industrial Southern town runs parallel to Maggie’s story, the effects of time taking its toll on both the woman and the place. Though personal reflection can hobble momentum, particularly in the final chapter, Maggie and her family stories will still entertain those outside the family. At its best, Maggie’s recollections of neighbors and friends feel like trading gossip over the backyard fence. The vintage photographs and clever drawings by Robert Hewitt are a satisfying addition to the text.
Hewitt’s memoir leaves us with the memory of a woman who is beautiful, strong, sad and difficult; i.e., human.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2014


Page Count: 212

Publisher: ArbeitenZeit Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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

Did you like this book?