An excellent biography of a genuine miracle worker.

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The author of The Butchering Art returns with “a new perspective on the terrible consequences of trench warfare, and the private battles that many men fought long after they put down their rifles.”

“Disfigured soldiers,” writes Fitzharris, “often suffered self-imposed isolation from society following their return from war.” While this has been true throughout history, the vast increase in military technology during World War I produced an avalanche of torn flesh and mutilated body parts that overwhelmed surgeons. Among more than 20 million injured, nearly 300,000 soldiers suffered facial trauma. In this often graphic yet inspiring, engaging book, the author focuses on Harold Gillies (1882-1960), a successful British ear, nose, and throat surgeon whose pioneering work in repairing faces places him among the war’s few true heroes. Sent to France early in the war, he observed freelance dental surgeons (the Royal Army Medical Corps had none) experimenting with facial reconstruction. He quickly established that the first principle of battlefield surgery—to close gaping wounds—was a disaster for jaw and facial injuries. Unless the damaged underlying structures were repaired first, the procedures guaranteed a grotesque end result. Returning to the Queen’s Hospital in London, Gillies persuaded the chief surgeon to establish a facial injury ward, which eventually grew to more than 1,000 beds and employed dozens of surgeon, dentists, artists, and sculptors who pioneered a new specialty: plastic surgery. The author’s case reports of individual soldiers are not for the faint of heart, but she delivers a consistently vivid account of the ingenious techniques involving skin flaps, grafting, reconstruction, and prostheses, most of which Gillies and colleagues invented. Many victims required dozens of painful procedures, and not all succeeded, but his accomplishments, along with his compassion, made him an object of worship from patients. A “genuine visionary in his field,” he received a good deal of favorable publicity in the media but only modest official recognition, including a knighthood in 1930, and he continued to practice until his death.

An excellent biography of a genuine miracle worker.

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-28230-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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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 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...


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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