There are fine moments here, but also considerable padding, so that, like so many other books, this is really a magazine...

LOUISE

AMENDED

Memoir of a life turned upside down by illness.

Krug begins her slender memoir with the story of her involvement in a bit of journalistic subterfuge, following Britney Spears around while trying not to get caught at it. “I was a pretty girl with an unknown face—not unusual for the Four Seasons resort in Santa Barbara,” she writes. “I would not stand out.” But life had other plans for her. Thanks to the “medical fluke” of a burst blood vessel in the pons region of the brain, she found herself in the emergency room. Things went from bad to worse: Soon she was seeing double, her face a rictus of pain, her body refusing to cooperate in doing the slightest task, walker and wheelchair and eye patch her constant props. The dramatic apex of the book comes early on, as she suffers while doctors come and go, talking as if she were not there about a patient who may or may not recover. Krug is honest to a fault about these out-of-body moments, and she writes with an easygoing twang about what’s happening to her: “Things in the brain move around like prizes in a Jell-O salad.” If that image doesn’t mean anything in places without such culinary treats, then she frequently offers parallel takes on the same event, for the trick of the book is its employment of different points of view. Krug’s mother, friends and a much-put-upon boyfriend all figure in the telling of the tale. The shift from one to the other and back to first-person is not always smooth or successful, but the point is made: A terrible affliction may befall just one person, but a surrounding company of players is implicated in the proceedings. The best parts of the book are Krug’s occasional notes on how the rest of us can be accommodating—and not patronizing.

There are fine moments here, but also considerable padding, so that, like so many other books, this is really a magazine article—interesting and readable, but an article all the same.

Pub Date: April 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-936787012

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Black Balloon Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2012

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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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