Empathetic, probing, and often emotionally moving narratives on appreciating the power and the pain of aging.

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ELDERHOOD

REDEFINING AGING, TRANSFORMING MEDICINE, REIMAGINING LIFE

A noted geriatrician illuminates the facets of old age through a compassionate, philosophical, and humanistic lens.

For Aronson (Medicine/Univ. of California, San Francisco; A History of the Present Illness: Stories, 2013), what began as a relatively rudimentary “old age book” soon morphed into an examination of aging and the human condition encompassing poignant stories and the viewpoints of medical experts, writers, historians, and scientists. Most of the author’s patients are 60 and above, and she approaches their care not just from a wellness angle, but from humanitarian, social, and personal ones as well. She shares harrowing case studies of elderly people who have been misdiagnosed or mistreated by medical professionals. She also examines the ways an ageist modern society and the medical community and its depersonalized treatment protocols continue to fail elderly patients. Aronson rightly believes that these failures must be brought forward as learning tools for the global medical community. The author modestly inserts herself into the narrative, frequently sharing stories about her youth and her medical rotations as well as her father’s struggles with dementia and her mother’s battle with cancer. She also addresses worrisome (and potentially disabling) physical changes and medical issues that appeared much earlier in her life than she’d expected. The narrative is comprehensive, sprawling, and often depressing and somber, featuring sad histories of elder maltreatment and neglect as well as clear examples of ageist ignorance. Nonetheless, the book is beautifully written and offers countless moments of keen insight. Some observances are even startling, as when Aronson pauses to reflect on the societal obsession with anti-aging and accidentally observes the disturbing hairline of a woman with a facelift, her “surgical residua pulling one way and gravity another.” By collectively observing age from diverse perspectives, the author hopes readers (and caregivers) will discover a new appreciation for growing old that is positive, fruitful, and rewarding.

Empathetic, probing, and often emotionally moving narratives on appreciating the power and the pain of aging.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62040-546-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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